Author: Lauren Mansy
Narrator: Lora Brown
Audiobook Length: 6 hours 30 minutes
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.
The Memory Thief is a standalone fantasy novel that first caught my attention as the main character shares my name. While the name caught my eye, the cover and general blurb made me want to give it a try. I was nervous to try this as there are tons of mixed reviews for this story. Unfortunately, after finishing, I lean towards the negative side as there was a lot of potential, but it just never quite got there. Pulling off a standalone fantasy novel is very difficult as there is a lot of world-building, plot, and character development needed as the author does not rely on real world type context for the most part. Sometimes authors are successful and other times, the story would have read better if it was expanded into, at least, a duology. This novel, unfortunately, was one where more time was needed.
The story begins with the introduction of Julietta (Etta), who is on a mission to save her mother. She is Gifted with the ability to transfer memories. In this world, memories can be stolen, bought, sold, like currency. Four realms, Craewick, Kripen, Blare, and Aravid, make up the world where each has their own ruler. The ruler of Craewick, Madame, wants to be the supreme ruler and there are a group of rebels, the Shadows, planning to stop her. To help her mother, Etta joins the Shadows along with another member, Reid who is on a mission to rescue his brother. Together they go on a mission to stop Madame and to save their families. The general concept was interesting, but it just needed more. Most of this is due to the pacing and timeline. There are multiple flashbacks throughout to fill in the gaps of the story and it became confusing to keep all the events straight.
A relationship develops between Reid and Etta, but it does have a lot of elements of insta-love. While they were cute together and I enjoyed their banter, I felt they went from zero to one hundred extremely quickly to the point that it was difficult to root for them as a couple. The two of them do connect emotionally, but there is something missing to make their relationship worth caring about. This seemed to be the general theme, for me, in the writing where all the pieces were there to make this amazing, but it fell short in the execution. Many events in the plot moved forward too easily as the author needed everything to move forward to reach the ending. With all of this convenience, it made the story just feel meh as there were no intense moments to keep the reader invested. Overall, I love the author’s concept and general elements, but I just wanted a little more to fully love the novel.