Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Conjured - Sarah Beth Durst

I received this from Bloomsbury USA Children's Books in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads:  Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

First sentence:  "Your name is Eve.  Remember that."


I'm still a bit daydreamy after reading this (I often get this way after good books, but it's been an hour or so and it hasn't worn off quite yet), so I'm still a bit...spacey.

This story has cemented an opinion in my mind.  I've decided I have a new favourite genre (actually I've never really had a genre I would call my favourite before, so I suppose it is my only favourite genre haha)- one that I didn't even know existed until a couple weeks ago: magic realism.  It is the reason why I am a huge fan of David Almond (most notably known for Skellig and Kit's Wilderness) and Alice Hoffman.  I think I've found the some of the best writing I've ever read...poignant isn't really the right word for it.  Delicate and fantastical and...real.  I don't really have a word for that, so whatever that word is, that's what I've found in this genre.   

First, let me say that this book was so, so beautifully written.  The prose was never overly flowery (although, admittedly I do tend to like very flowery prose), but it wasn't sparse like a Hemingway novel either.  It was just...perfect.  There are all these descriptions..of people with diamonds in their dreads, or women with antlers growing out of their heads...and I could see them.  I'm a pretty imaginative person, so I usually see when I read, if that makes sense (I've heard that it doesn't work that way for everyone, but I know some of you will know what I mean).  Usually it's just sort of a vague sense of things, but everything I saw in this book was so...vivid.  And it's not even that Durst spent hours describing the way things looked - she really didn't.  Honestly, it was just perfectly done.  And this story was so dark, so beautiful and fantastical - everything I would want from a carnival story.

There is so little I can write about this novel without giving away anything!  And you really need to know nothing more than what is written in the summary, or it spoils things.  I want to reread the book when I have time so I can read through it knowing everything that happens - so much makes sense when you know the ending!  But, of course I should stop teasing you, since I know the ending and you don't.  Just know that I never would have guessed it, not even a bit, but it's not one of those solutions that seems contrived, like you couldn't have known because you weren't given the information. 

I have decided that I need to stop looking at people's reviews of books on Goodreads, because more often than not I am wordless with shock and just can not possibly understand why people feel a certain way about a book.  I just looked over some of the reviews for this book on Goodreads, and I was shocked.  How could you NOT like this book??  I mean if you are looking for a wham bam romance or gun toting action packed book, you're not likely to enjoy this book.  I suppose it is slow paced, in the sense that it takes you quite a while to even get an inkling of what's going on, but it certainly didn't lose momentum with the time it took to get there.  If anything it built it!  At a first glance, it doesn't appear to be a character driven novel (and I tend to prefer character building over anything else).  But at a closer look it's because Durst has done a very impressive thing:  not once are you told a character is a certain way.  You are always shown.  Sometimes it's Eve's instincts, which is sort of telling, but it's always backed up with a character's actions.  That's quite impressive, actually.  And in the same sense, it's not really plot driven either, since things aren't actually happening.  So much is told in flash backs, but, again it doesn't get boring.  It really hikes up the tension as this goes on.  Maybe part of it is that it doesn't read like a typical YA novel.  The writing is more isn't scattered with slang, and in fact there's little dialogue now that I think about it.  I'd say my only complaint is that I wasn't hugely connected to Eve's love interest.  But it's not really a big complaint, and he wasn't really the point of story for me.

Another big selling point of this book for me?  I love that this isn't part of a series!!! Alleluiah, thank the lord! All in all, I really loved this book...but it's a quiet sort of love, not a shout from the rooftops sort of love.   I'm sorry I can't list all the reasons why this is a wonderful story, but it's not all because I don't want to ruin it for you, it's many ways it's simply indescribable.

Would I recommend this? 

Absolutely.  But if you are looking for heavy romance or a fast-paced plot, this isn't the book for you.  It's got great mystery, great suspense, twists you'll never see coming, and  such beautiful writing you'll imagine you're in an entirely different world!


  1. This book sounds amazing!! I love Sarah Beth Durst's writing style and the imagery and plot make this seem like a great read.

    Sara at The Page Sage

  2. This book definitely convinced me that Sarah Beth Durst is an author that I'm going to immediately pick up new books from (and am going to go to the library to read all her other books that I haven't read haha)


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