Weekly Wrap Up : 1st March 2020

It’s March – it’s actually March.  Who can believe it. I’ve had a busy week again – I sound like a scratched record.  Basically, same old, same old. I read two of my planned books this week.  Also nearly finished another SPFBO and will soon be starting the next – I need to catch up with my titles over March and April but I’m chilled about it because I’ve not got as many review books over the next two months.  So, what did I read this week:

  1. Crownbreaker by Sebastien deCastell – which was a great ending to a wonderful series. Review here.
  2. The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd – which I absolutely loved. And my review is here.

What I’m reading next week:

  1. Starsight by Brandon Sanderson (audio) – I have made progress and I’m really enjoying it so should finish it probably Monday.
  2. The Deep by Alma Katsu
  3. The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Upcoming Reviews:

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenlayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher
  4. King of Assassins by RJ Barker

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd

Posted On 27 February 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
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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.