08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst , 368 pages, read by Courtney, on 09/14/2013

Conjured is one of those books that’s incredibly difficult to describe. Our protagonist (sort of), Eve, is in witness protection but she doesn’t really know why. In fact, there’s really not much that Eve remembers at all. It’s not just her long-term memory that’s missing, she continues to lose chunks of her short-term memory every time she uses magic. She does know that if she attempts magic, she will lose consciousness as well as her memory. When she loses consciousness, she has horrific nightmares that evoke images of a macabre circus, an evil magician and a mysterious storyteller. Each nightmare is vivid and disturbing yet none will make sense until the book is nearly over. Life in WitSec (the witness protection program that’s taken Eve in) isn’t easy. Eve feels compelled to lie about her memory lapses and frequently worries about how she can be a witness if she knows nothing about her case. There are others that are kind of like her in that they can perform magic and are protected by WitSec, but none of them seem to suffer from the same types of memory issues. If anything, they revel in their talents. Eve’s handlers and the other “witnesses” all seem to know what the case is all about and who they’re in hiding from, but Eve is still clueless. They all appear to hope that her memory will return on its own, but Eve has trouble making sense of anything. In the meantime, Eve is given a job at the local library, where she meets a boy named Zach who is fascinated by her. Eve’s relationship with Zach grows from friendly acquaintanceship to something resembling a romance. All Eve knows for sure is that when she kisses Zach, they float (literally) and she doesn’t pass out. It is only this new human connection that prompts Eve to try and figure out more.
Eve is not a character that readers will relate to. Most of us, if in Eve’s position, would be desperate to find out what’s going on and would demand answers of those who did know more. In that sense, the narrative might be frustrating to some readers. The unconventional plot structure will further frustrate those readers. Those who don’t mind a bit of confusion along the way will be rewarded by a truly unique tale. The reader never knows more than Eve does, so each revelation adds more to the story. As the clues slowly start to form a coherent picture of Eve’s pre-WitSec life, the story becomes more and more nightmarish. The deliberate pacing may put some readers off as well, but others will relish the mystery and macabre setting. This is not the book for everyone, but it certainly sets itself apart from the pack.

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