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Reader’s Advisory: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

Conjured

by Sarah Beth Durst

Walker Children’s, ISBN-10 0802734588, $17.99 hardcover, September 2013

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.

Did you see the recent horror release The Conjuring? It has nothing in common with this book, except in both cases conjuring is referenced but doesn’t really happen in the story. Just so you know.

Anyway, this book is a strange, flawed work. Durst packs in a lot of elements that don’t necessarily mesh: secret agents, dark magic, a group of X-Men-esque teens, a serial killer murder mystery, amnesia… The list goes on. With all of those exciting gimmicks, whether they go together well or not, you’re probably thinking this book is fast-paced and exciting. Nope! I struggled through the first two thirds. I wouldn’t say nothing happened, but it’s very fragmented. Every time the heroine uses her magic power, she passes out and wakes up with amnesia. Not only does that put a huge crimp in the secret agents’ attempts to use her memories to find a magical serial killer, it keeps Eve and the reader in the dark about who and what she is and where she came from for a long time. A long, long, long, loooooooong time. She has a few flashbacks, but they aren’t enough to give the reader clues and seem way out of left field until the end of the story. By the way, the end of the story is wonderful, as is the big reveal about Eve, but you have to struggle to get there, it’s not interesting enough to be worth the tedium of the rest of the book, and it suddenly feels as though two different novels got shoved into one cover. If I hadn’t been reading this to review, I would have stopped. I feel like most teenagers would get 25% into the book, get bored, and chuck it for one of the many more interesting books scheduled to drop in late August and September.

Recommend to: Patient readers who cannot get enough fantasy or paranormal love triangles.

To buy or not to buy: Additional purchase for very large collections.

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