I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
My Initial Reaction…
Memory’s Wake was a marvelously unique story, with endearing characters and a plot that kept me engaged. The mysterious elements worked extremely well and I never knew what was coming next, which made this a really fun and exciting read.
Memory’s Wake is told from the perspective of four main characters: Eloryn, Roen, Will, and of course, Memory. I’m not picky about my book’s point of view, but being tossed around this much can be a bit confusing if the author doesn’t make the transitions clear. While I was always able to figure out the point of view, the transitions could have been smoother; I would have rather not had to figure it out. That being said, I did love these characters and reading from all their points of view did enhance the mystery and complexity of the plot.
Memory (sometimes called Mem) is the most central character, in that her mystery is the one you’re most interested in solving (at least I was). In the first scene Memory is thrust into this medieval-esque world of magic and fae (which was pretty great, by the way), beat up, having to immediately run for her life, and and she has none of her memories. As a reader, we know what none of the characters do – that Memory has somehow come from our world – because she’s wearing jeans and thinks of things like cell phones that are completely foreign to this world. As the story unfolds, we get to know Memory better and it’s impossible not to feel for her. She’s lost, in danger, scared and confused. And somehow she’s managed to group up with someone who’s problems are more important to everyone than her’s, making her feel inconsequential and alone.
Memory’s playing second fiddle to Eloryn (sometimes called Lory or El, which could be a bit confusing at first), the first character she encounters in Memory’s Wake. Eloryn is on the run from Wizard Hunters, and like Memory, we have no idea why. We just know that something has gone terrible wrong when she passed through the Veil (some form of magical transportation) and that for some reason Memory was ripped through that same veil with her. Through Eloryn we begin to guess at the kind of magical world Memory’s been placed in – for example, Eloyrn’s magic is clearly forbidden, though again we don’t know why. Eloryn has the most personal growth of the characters – she starts of scared and timid, but as the story progresses she really finds her voice and strength. She’s also a marvelously compassionate person and she’s got to figure out how to balance that with the need to be fierce and, well, kick ass.
Until these two ladies and forced travel companions grow into themselves, they’re very lucky to have the support of the two leading men – Will and Roen. Will is a mystery for me still, we’ve only just gotten to know some critical details about him and I have a feeling he will be much better fleshed out in future books. He’s a Tarzan like character, raised by the fae, and a bit wild. Roen, on the other hand, is a man of the world – he should have been a prince, but the kingdom’s been taken over and his family has had to go into hiding. As a result, he’s supporting them the best he can, as a thief. He wants to protect the girls but he feels ill equipped, mainly because he looks down on himself for the path he’s been forced to take in life.
I enjoyed all the characters, and as a character motivated reader I was satisfied to see the way they moved the story along.
That’s not to say Memory’s Wake doesn’t have a wonderful story. It does. The mystery surrounding Eloryn and Memory is heightened and intensified by the fact that they are being chased by the Wizard Hunters in this fabulously complex magical world. I would have liked to see more of this world and to understand it better. For most of the story I felt like Memory, drifting about in a complex world with rules I didn’t understand. It worked well for the story though; my ignorance made the mystery of what was going on that much more complex. What I loved, though, was that despite my lack of knowledge there were enough hints along the way that I felt like I could potentially solve the mystery. Ultimately I picked up on some things, completely missed others, making it all the more fun.
For me Memory’s Wake was a book of self-discovery more than anything else. Yes there’s action and magical creatures and even a little bit of romance. But more than anything our main characters are figuring out who they are – and not just Memory – they all have a lot to learn about themselves and that journey isn’t quite over.
The story and the world building were beautifully supported by drawings done by the author (some people get all the talent!!). I was skeptical when I heard there were drawings in the eBook – I didn’t expect them to be very enjoyable in that medium. I was wrong. I loved these drawings (even when I was reading on my phone!) and often stopped reading just to look at it. Ultimately they did nothing to move the story along itself and yet they helped me to visualize the girls and what what was going on in different ways. I wouldn’t want to read the book without them, now that I’ve had the privilege of reading it with them.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed Memory’s Wake and look forward to reading the next book in the series. The ending left enough resolved to make me happy and yet I can see definite lingering uncertainties that leave it wide open to continue. I recommend this for anyone who enjoys fantasy stories, magical worlds, and young adult stories.