Saturday, 10 November 2012

Book Review - Memory's Wake


Lost in a world full of monstrous fairies, a troubled sixteen year old has to find out who she is, and why her memories were stolen, before she is found by those who want her dead.
She takes the name “Memory” and knows she has just one goal – to find her way home, wherever that is. But the land she’s found herself in is completely unfamiliar. No technology to be seen, and iron is banned, thanks to a pact the humans have with the magical creatures who share their pre-industrial era world. In her t-shirt and torn jeans, Memory knows she’s different, even before she performs impossible magic.

As the fragments of her troubled past are pieced together, even her newly found friends question her humanity. Memory just wanted to know who she is. She never thought she’d have to question what she is.

Haunted by her past, chased by a dragon, wanted by the king and stalked by the strange, handsome savage that seems to know her, everyone is after Memory, and she suspects it’s not just for her eye-catching outfit. Her forgotten past holds dangerous secrets that will challenge everything she believes and change the whole kingdom.

Memory will fight to get back to a family and home she can’t remember but desperately desires, even at the cost of new friendships and romances. On the run with no name and no memories, she thinks she has nothing left to lose. She couldn’t be more mistaken.

I first read Memory’s Wake last year when it was first released. Since then I’ve read it three more times, and I still love it just as much. This is a beautifully written, magical tale that instantly pulls you in and doesn’t let go. Entering the wonderful world of Avall with Memory, you can really empathise with her and follow her on the journey to find herself. Along the way, the setting unfolds like a journey into a magnificent painting. The descriptions really enrich the narrative, bringing a huge amount of very rich settings to life.

In many ways, it reminded me of the classic fairytales like the Brothers Grimm and Hans Andersen, and that’s beautifully balanced by having a main character who’s brilliantly sarcastic. Memory is a really likeable character and I love the dynamics between her and the other female protagonist, Eloryn. The way the two bounce off each other is very well constructed. I really enjoyed how there was no pigeonholing with any of the characters either. All of them have reasons for what they do; it’s only the way they’re perceived which might mark them out as being ‘good’ or ‘evil’. That adds a very believable realism to them; that they’re just ordinary people.

The paperback and hardcover versions are full of original illustrations done by Selina. I’ve been a huge fan of her artwork for almost ten years, but these illustrations really raise the novel and contemplate the narrative beautifully. There’s a small one at the start of each chapter to help set the scene, and in the most poignant parts there are full-page ones that really pull you into the moment. The level of detail is on par with that of the writing; I had to actually go through the book again after I finished reading it just to spend time studying and marvelling at the pictures.

This is easily one of my favourite paranormal books; there’s a perfect mix of magic, romance, adventure and mystery to satisfy a wide range of readers. It’s an engaging and occasionally funny piece of work that I’ll happily read again and again.

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