Hi all! This week is such a big week for blog tours! This is the second out of three, and I'm so excited to share this post with you! The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy is a new fantasy novel that you'll want to add to your TBRs straightaway. Follow along with the tour here, and don't forget to enter an exciting giveaway down below!
The Book and its Author
In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.
Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal's" memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.
To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.
Lauren lives in the Chicago area, where she's spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren's own journey with her mother, is her first novel.
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Thank you to Blink YA and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Memory Thief is a new, expansive fantasy that follows Etta, a memory thief, as she learns about her family and grapples with guilt while attempting to remove the tyrannical ruler of her city from power. I quite liked that The Memory Thief is standalone fantasy. I think the story wrapped up well in the pages allotted, if a bit neatly. However, I would say that this novel’s strength here is also its greatest weakness. I always felt one step removed from the tale, and I was never fully immersed. I was always cognizant of the fact that I was reading a book.
Starting with the world building, which is intricate, if a bit clumsy: I was intrigued by the relationship between memory and wealth that Mansy built. Memories are used as currency, with people trading them through touch (as Gifted) or sight, (for Shifters). In this way, robbers can prey on those without the ability to transfer memories, creating an inequitable society. The Shadows, the organization that Etta has a fraught relationship with, aim to help those who can’t help themselves, providing protection to orphans and Gifted who don’t wish to join the army. There was a lot of information thrown into the first couple of chapters, but I quickly understood the general rules of the magic, and the different kingdoms. From the beginning, the reader is dropped into Etta’s world, and the action never stops.
Etta was an interesting character: throughout the novel, she dealt with the guilt she felt after her best friends died and her mother fell into a coma. She was very protective of her mother, and the novel is about her journey to saving her and preserving her memories of her childhood. Etta’s mother is in an asylum controlled by Madame (the villain), and Etta must save her or else Madame could have her killed. Etta’s feelings grief and shame change over the course of the book, and she goes on an emotional journey as she encounters old friends on her quest.
She also falls in love, which actually became a small quibble of mine. Reid and Etta started off extremely distrustful of each other, and then quickly grew to love each other, which I found sort of ludicrous. I’m never a huge fan of insta-love, and especially here when the circumstances of their meeting do not lead to a realistic relationship in my opinion.
Most of my issues with The Memory Thief stem from the length of the novel. For an introduction to a new fantasy world, the book is incredibly short: only 320 pages. This length made world building feel rushed at times, and did not allow for sufficient development of the characters and relationships. Especially towards the end, character development was sacrificed for plot. There was a massive twist that was just… not explained well, and it began to seem as though the characters were just being put through scenes to get to the planned ending, no matter whether or not it was believable. This hurt my understanding of the characters and world, and while I love standalone fantasy, I think The Memory Thief could have been taken in a different direction to form a more satisfying first book in a series.
Overall, I rate The Memory Thief 3/5 stars. Its problems impeded my enjoyment towards the end, but before that it made a delightful read. I’d recommend ordering a copy from your local library!
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.