Author: Sarah Beth Durst (Twitter)
Publisher: Walker Children's
Publish Date: September 3, 2013
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Fantasy
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.
I have an odd fascination with all things dark and twisted when it comes to books, so it was no surprise to me that Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst spoke to me on some sadistic little level. Paranormal is one of those genres that I doubt will ever grow truly old if authors commit to taking a new stance and sort of blur the lines between subgenres. This is one of those novels that actually convinced me of this fact, if only because the author manages to create this beautiful and sinister melting pot of paranormal, magic and horror, giving readers a thrilling whodunit mystery all the while.
This is not the first book I've read by Ms. Durst, and I'm familiar with her whirlwind writing style, which interjects a sort of realism to an otherwise otherworldly novel. Conjured flows fairly seamlessly, never faltering in terms of plot points, and while I was concerned about how we would be introduced to Eve's memory loss, I have to say that it was done really well. Eve's frustration and confusion is palpable, and it's as jarring to the reader as I'm sure it was for her. The author plays into this lack of information well, stringing us along as Eve discovers things, as well. In this way, the lack of foreboding really amps up the drama because, like Eve, we have no idea what's coming, or where she's come from.
Conjured is the type of book that makes it difficult to formulate an accurate portrayal of what exactly happened in the novel because it is completely and utterly trippy. From start to finish, this novel is a whirlwind of dark and brooding circus imagery, a creepy, atmospheric air to the setting and characters and, at times, this oppressing and overwhelming sense of limbo. Ultimately though, it's this smothering atmosphere that makes the story really soar because it is the murky details that really let the drama and danger shine through.
I did struggle with Eve at times though because, while it was understandable that the Witness Protection Program defined who she was at the start of the novel, I feel as though she lacked the ultimate growth that I'd hoped for in the end. I didn't see her personality fully come into its own, and I felt that, at times, she was overshadowed by the incredible stage that Ms. Durst created for the plot of the novel. Furthermore, we're offered a handful of secondary characters including a love interest, Alex, who felt a bit like afterthoughts at times. I want to get invested in a relationship between characters, but if we don't have the appropriate time to grow with them together, it simply doesn't work for me.
Despite these hiccups though, I thought Conjured was a pretty good read that really does offer the dark magic that readers are promised through the synopsis and cover and, in the end, that's what I wanted. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy dark paranormal and fantasy stories.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.