The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd

Posted On 27 February 2020

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TheMemorySeriously folks, this book.  It’s scary in the most horrible way, it’s tense, it’s gripping, it’s addictive.  I read it all in one go.  My emotions went all over the place.  I was horrified on occasion and even made a few squeaky noises that inspired some strange looks from the other half.  My eyes are gritty and I’m shattered but I just had to know.  I had to know. It was fantastic.  It’s not a book you’re going to call enjoyable.  This will never be described as fun but my goodness it’s a book I couldn’t put down.  To be clear, this isn’t horror, it’s not grimdark, it’s not blood curdling but it’s downright thrilling in the worst and yet best way possible.

Anyway, this is one of very few occasions where I’m going to use the book description as part of this review.  I don’t usually do this (and no, I’m not being lazy thank you very much).  Put simply this is a difficult book to review without giving away spoilers and I really don’t want to give away spoilers so this post is going to focus a lot more on other aspects to the book than plot.  You can lead yourself down the garden path without assistance from me.

Book description:

‘Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .’

So, where to begin.  I really am a mess.  Let me just say this isn’t a horror novel, but that doesn’t mean that the contents aren’t horrible.  It’s just so difficult to really put my finger on it, it’s like a train wreck or a car crash. It’s a book that crept up on me, I mean, really, when I think about it – it didn’t creep at all, it steam rollered in, took me by the throat and wouldn’t let go.  Basically this is a book about child abduction but what makes it really, seriously, gripping to read is the switches in pov that allows us these strange snippets of insight.

Allow me to introduce you to Elijah, Elissa and Mairead.

Elissa is a fantastic character. I loved her and I can safely say that in her shoes – I would have been a lot less resilient., a puddle of gibbering in fact  She’s clever and resourceful. I loved all her little plays, her codes and her attempts to give clues.  In fact I loved her as a character and that’s the other element that keeps you hooked to these pages, just itching to punch somebody really hard.

Mairead.  She’s the police detective in charge of the abduction case.  This pov allows us to look at what’s going on out there in the everyday world, a fact that is helped by the real down to earth struggles that Mairead herself is going through and her desperation to rescue Elissa as a result.  I felt for Mairead, I wanted to give her little nudges in the right direction.  I was praying that she’d have a lightbulb moment.

Elijah is a complicated character.  He has some oddly heartwarming moments where he misinterprets words or sayings, in spite of his self acclaimed excellent IQ.  Elijah is desperate for friendship and in a way this makes it difficult to dislike him for not always making the right choices.  Basically, Elijah lives something of a scary existence and it’s difficult to unravel, although there are little clues along the way, that I picked up on but really couldn’t work out.  I’m sure others will but I was so intent on pressing on I left all these little tidbits in my wake in pursuit of the ending.  On reflection of course it’s easy to look back and say ‘ah yes’ but strictly speaking ‘oh no’ you better believe I was clueless.

Now let us take a moment to look at setting.  Everything here is deliciously creepy and dark fairytaleish.  Derelict cottages, damp basements, strange named places that give up the strangest oddities collected into a secret box by Elijah and hidden under his bed.  A lofty mansion, a ghostly wood, a strange encampment of travellers.

And finally, the writing.  The pace is set from the start and let me give you one piece of advice –  cancel everything, pack up some sandwiches and a flask, and grab a blanket because you’ll be in for the long haul if you’re picking this up – you will want to press on.  It’s like ‘oh, please, just one more chapter’.  But one more chapter is never enough, it turns into another and another and yet another.  All the feelings here.  Horror – I’m a parent, child abduction is your basic nightmare isn’t it?  Despair – how can this possibly work out.  Tension, every time the bolts slide open you’re as scared as Elissa (okay, you’re probably not AS SCARED as Elissa – but you’re still pretty damned scared).  Hope – you have to have hope.  Intrigue – not just what’s going to happen, but why, why is this happening.

Anyway, I think I’ve probably said enough.  This is a book that I was glued to, I couldn’t tear my eyes away, even when I felt like everything was going to go to hell in a handcart – I had to keep reading.

Could I be any more infuriatingly teasing.  I think not.  So, farewell.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5 out of 5 stars.




23 Responses to “The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd”

  1. alwaysneedmorebooks

    Heard lots of great things about this one!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Seems like they were all right then because I thought it was so good.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Shalini

    I have one credit on audible

    My choices are this book and Gytha Lodge’s books. Still so unsure

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ooh, I’ve not heard of those other books – I shall have to go and investigate.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    Wow Lynn! I’ve never even heard of this, now you’ve added a must read book to my TBR! This sounds like a book I simply must read😁

  4. Paul's Picks

    Whoa! 5 stars… I’ll put it on the list for sure!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I don’t know if I was simply in the mood for something different but this worked so well for me.
      Lynn 😀

  5. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Even before reaching your recommendation to prepare for a full immersion, I understood this is the kind of book that requires an almost uninterrupted read, even though it also feels like a story where you need to surface for oxygen now and then.
    Which to me is the mark of an outstanding story.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I just loved it. It might be that other readers reach conclusions or figure out something of what’s going on but I really didn’t, in fairness I didn’t even try to, I was just hooked.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Greg

    So this – “The pace is set from the start and let me give you one piece of advice – cancel everything, pack up some sandwiches and a flask, and grab a blanket because you’ll be in for the long haul if you’re picking this up – you will want to press on.”

    I love books like this- the ones you just can’t put down. I need to get it. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I loved the different perspectives that helped to give you a bigger picture and I was so tense.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I love that you are reading more thrillers these days too, because it’s another source for me to find good recommendations! This sounds amazing, I just added it to my TBR!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really like having the thrillers inbetween – it keeps the fantasy reads more fresh for me.
      Lynn 😀

  8. waytoofantasy

    Oh wow it sounds like this was totally engrossing! I love books that I have trouble putting down, sounds like a fantastic read! Glad you enjoyed this one so much!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really did struggle to put this one down, I just had to know what was going on.
      Lynn 😀

  9. Weekly Wrap Up : 1st March 2020 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd – which I absolutely loved. And my review is here. […]

  10. LizScanlon

    Damn, this sounds so very good. I must keep this in mind for my thrillers list! 👍

  11. Looking Back at 2020 : The Ghost of Books Past | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd – in my own words ‘It’s scary in the most horrible way, it’s tense, it’s gripping, it’s addictive. I read it all in one go.” […]

  12. Can’t Wait Wednesday : Mastermind: The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd.  I loved The Memory Wood and can’t recommend it enough so I was absolutely the most excited person ever when I saw […]

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