Review originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
Sometimes, a book can surprise you. I was surprised by Conjured
by Sarah Beth Durst because I actually finished reading it. The book wasn't bad, but I went into it blind (I didn't read the synopsis), and Conjured
really wasn't the right book for that. The main character, Eve, had no memories or any idea of what was going on. Therefore, I had no idea what was going on until maybe the last sixty pages. However, I liked Eve enough to make the journey with her.
For the most part, the characters in Conjured
didn't work for me. Despite Eve having no memories and almost no sense of self, she was not willing to take things at face value or trust easily. It was a bit annoying that she fell in love quickly (and it got too deep too fast), but it was very two-sided. Zach worked with Eve at the library, and he just came across as the typical horny teenage boy. He was funny and talked too much, so he was slightly endearing. Her caregivers were Malcolm and "Aunt" Nicki, and they were fairly bland - neither loving or nefarious. Malcolm did seem sincere, if nothing else. Aiden, Topher, and Victoria were three other special teens that Eve was thrown in with, and they were boring, too. None of the characters were fully developed, and the development that did
occur was sloppy at best.
The world-building in Conjured
was a problem for me, too. I did not understand where Eve was from or why she was in WitSec (the witness protection agency) for the longest time. I did not get the whole carnival thing, and that didn't even begin to make sense until the end. The occasional portions of the book that were in italics made matters even more confusing because they seemed like memories or dreams, but it was hard to tell. There were multiple worlds in the book, but the traveling between them was rather vague, and none of those worlds were really described. For that matter, I don't understand WitSec or which worlds run it. How do they all work together? While trying to figure out Eve, it would have been a lot easier to read Conjured
if I wasn't trying to figure out everything else as well. We are given a huge info-dump at the end of the book, and the story wrapping up that way was disappointing.
While I appreciate what Durst was trying to with Conjured
- only giving us as much as the unreliable narrator knows - it was frustrating. There was so much potential in the world-building and characters in the novel that I think the book would have been more effective and enjoyable as a series. Since I don't get to choose such things, I can only judge it by what it is, and it didn't work for me.To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.