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Conjured

Conjured - Sarah Beth Durst This review and others are posted at Inspiring Insomnia.

When I finished reading Conjured, my first thought was, "Why wasn't this a short story?" The first 75% was an uninteresting and somewhat confusing mish-mash of genres: lost memories, a serial killer, and magic. The last 25% threw in a crazy, creepy twist and featured a recapping of the entire plot. I wondered why I had to sit through a full story when it was all going to be explained for me at the end.

In Conjured, Eve has no memories of her past. She has two mysterious caretakers who play good cop and bad cop. Malcolm seems nice enough, but Nicki speaks to Eve with a sneering, sinister tone. Eve is in a witness protection program for reasons unknown, and Malcolm and Nicki instruct Eve to have as little interaction with others as possible. At the same time, they set her up with a library job that ensures she will have personal interactions. They tell Eve that even though she's capable of performing magic, she is not to do so in public. Of course, that doesn't last very long. Somehow, the goal of all of this is to get Eve to regain her memories so she can help identify a serial killer. Is this all making sense?

At her library job, Eve meets another employee named Zach who immediately says, "I think it's a shame that it's customary to shake hands upon greeting when what I really want to do is kiss your lips and see if you taste like strawberries." Most people would be disturbed or disgusted by such a greeting, but our Eve loves it. They are soon kissing and (literally) flying, with the help of Eve's magic.

Eve meets a group of odd teenagers who seem to only speak the language of snark, and they possess magical talents, too. There's a scene straight out of X-Men: First Class when the group and Eve all show off their talents. One of them, Aidan, vies for Eve's affection with this line: "I can be your knight in shining armor." Another winner.

As the story nears its end, Eve finally meets two characters named The Magician and The Storyteller, whom she recalled in vague memory flashbacks interspersed through the book. These two have a very interesting background, and they are not the sort with whom you'd ever want to be trapped in a room. Eve finds herself in that position, unfortunately, and they reveal all of the secrets of Eve's life to her and to us. This was the high point of the book for me, because the revelations were genuinely creepy. If only it could have ended there, but it continued on to a court scene that was unintentionally laughable and almost campy, considering what we now know about Eve. The few creepy moments were a welcome change of pace, but they were not enough to salvage this story.

Note - I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.