Sarah Beth Durst
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.
“Don’t be afraid, Eve. Not of this. You can be afraid of spiders or snakes or airplane crashes or a zombie apocalypse… but don’t be afraid of yourself.”
Hold on, I’m still struggling to piece together what I just read. Having gone into this book expecting a gruesome paranormal-mystery, maybe something reminiscence of Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, or Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn. So you can imagine my shock when the story took a completely different direction from what I was expecting. But before you make up your minds that Conjured was a horrible read, let me tell you that I am not wholly disappointed with this. I am just not wholly satisfied, either.
Summary: Eve wakes up one day not knowing where, who, or why she is. She has absolutely no recollections of the past, but the witness protection program she’s in is trying to force her to remember — to no avail. As the days pass, however, she begins to discover that she can do magic. She can cause birds printed onto the wallpaper to fly away. She can change the color of her eyes. She can fly. But all these come with a price, and with recurring dreams and visions, she begins to piece together what may have happened to her — and how she can fix it. But sometimes, the truth is better left unknown.
The biggest problem I had with Sarah Beth Durst’s latest was that it was so pointless. Even now, a couple of days after having finished the book, I still don’t know what I was supposed to gain from reading the book, or what the book was even about, once you looked past the overall plot. It had a sense of direction, sure, but so much was left unexplored that I couldn’t overlook it. I can’t say much without spoiling the book, but if you aren’t afraid of being spoiled, then be my guest: the witness protection program is actually a police force of sorts for several worlds, all combined together with a silver portal. No explanation of how this program came about in the human world was ever given, nor why there were humans working in it. Furthermore, I wasn’t given a very good idea of the idea of several worlds — what are they? Why are they here? None of these questions were answered. The unspoiled version: the world building was terrible, and there were several plot holes that ripped the book up.
Another thing that really bugged me were the unrealistic characters. Eve goes to work in a library, and meets Zach, a fellow librarian for the summer — surprise, surprise! — who proceeds to tell her that he wants to kiss her. So Zach is this not-so-appealing love interest who talks too much about nonsense and wants to kiss a girl he’s only just met. Not to mention that when they actually did kiss, not too long after they meet, Eve somehow manages to make them fly. And guess what? All Zach does is open his mouth and widen his eyes and that’s it. There’s no genuine shock, no genuine fear.
You are all I think about. You are exactly what my life has been missing. You are what I have always wanted. You are magic, with or without the flying.
How poetical, Zach! Especially to a girl you barely know.
If that isn’t unrealistic, and if that isn’t counted as insta-love, then I don’t know what it is. There was another certain scene in Zach’s house, as well, where Eve shows up without any prior notice to see Zach’s mother drunk and his father working up an angry storm. Get this: none of them are surprised to see her. Or violated that she burst in on something obviously very secret, and when some hocus-pocus is performed in front of them, they did not react.
Eve herself was… strange. There were quite a bit of perspective shifts in the book, from third person past to first person present, to first person past, and while it isn’t as confusing as it sounds, I did find it a bit odd, as it did nothing to make me connect with her or come to feel much for her. Despite being able to perform magic, she and Zach were probably the dullest characters of the book.
Despite these flaws, though, there was still something strangely haunting, strangely fascinating about Conjured. There’s no denying that Eve’s predicament is intriguing, and as the reader, it’s hard not to want to know more about her and what exactly happened. And the final result is anything but disappointing: it is twisted and strange, and not altogether happy. I have to say that never once did I see the conclusion coming.
However, when it comes down to it, though Conjured was unexpected, different, and somewhat original, all those things meant nothing because overall, the book was quite senseless. Bland characters, insta-love, and unresolved issues only scrape the surface. And if this review doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, then just take this home: this book is definitely not worth rushing to the bookstore for.
Who is this book for?
I don’t know, actually. I can’t imagine a particular group of people who would enjoy this book, though I could be mistaken!