- The Memory Wood.
- Sam Lloyd.
- 384 pages.
- Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Mystery.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.
Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.
When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.
Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.
As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In early afternoon thirteen-year-old, Elissa Mirzoyan is abducted and taken from outside of the hotel where she is competing in a chess tournament. After being drugged she awakens chained, manacled and locked away in the inky black depths of a cell in the cellar beneath a remote and ramshackle cottage.
Twelve-year-old Elijah North lives in a cottage on a sprawling country estate where his father is the gamekeeper. Elijah spends most of his time roaming, wandering the nearby forest which he refers to as ‘The Memory Wood’ and the surrounding secluded area. One day, whilst out roaming in the forest Elijah seems, at first, to chance upon the abandoned old cottage and Elissa. But, Elissa isn’t the first girl that he has found. There have been others, others who have come before and others who are no more.
Elijah is lonely and he wants Elissa to be his friend. The pair dance, skirt around the situation with each playing mind games and trying to gain the trust of the other. Elijah in the hope that Elissa will be his friend and Elissa in the hope that Elijah will go to the police and tell them where she is.
The Memory Wood is told through three perspectives. Those of Elijah, Elissa and Detective Superintendent Mairead MacCullagh who is in charge of the investigation into Elissa’s abduction. For all three they are more than just names on a page they are real and you feel for them. For Elissa and her horrifying predicament. Elissa is bright, clever and resourceful. She is also determined. She doesn’t want to be weak and let the ordeal break her. There is a strength inside to survive, a will to live, to see her mother again. She is scared and terrified. But, she has to try and not let it show, no matter how frightened she is, she has to control her fears and not fall prey to the terror of her situation. Elissa uses her knowledge of chess to help her, to calm her and to settle her as it is something that she knows and that is comforting in the living nightmare that she finds herself. For Elijah who seems brittle and broken with a decaying mental state, a naivety and a sadness surrounding him. But, at the same time as there is that fragility to him, he also radiates a weirdness and there is a feeling of something being off about him, a disquiet over his contrary actions, his choices, his evasive answers and the secrets that he keeps. And, finally, for Mairead who has her own issues Her priority is the case and finding Elissa, no matter the cost to her own health. The fate of Elissa, her safe return seems to be inexplicably linked to Mairead’s own well-being, if she rescues, saves her and if she lives then, Mairead hopes that a part of her will live, will be saved too.
The story is fast-paced and intense with some disturbing and dramatic twists. The three different perspectives weave together well and serve to form a compelling and sinister whole. There is something insidious that burrows, that crawls under your skin and a menacing shadow like a looming spectre that haunts the pages of The Memory Wood. A lingering unease and an ominous trepidation for what will come to pass and for what will be revealed that is felt from one perspective to the next, that keeps you gripped and that finds you relentlessly turning the pages.
Lloyd’s writing is stellar. It is descriptive, meaningful and immersive with some clever turns of lyrical macabre phrasing, some horror-tinged imagery and some beautifully written dark passages. You find yourself transported to the locations, easily picturing them and you can feel the cold and damp of the tenebrous cell where Elissa is confined and the mulch of the forest underfoot as Elijah walks through it.
There is something darkly enchanting about the Memory Wood, an allure to the setting, the cottage and the interactions between Elijah and Elissa. The use of fairy tale characters to describe the people and the locations involved adds a layer of the fantastical to the story. The ghoul, the witch, Hansel and Gretel, the Gingerbread House and, of course, that fairy tale staple a dark and eerie forest. It is, in fact, at times like you are reading a dark fable, the darkest of fairy tales. Only, it is reality, the monsters are real and they are human.
I loved The Memory Wood. It is one hell of an unsettling ride down a rabbit hole of addictive and thrilling darkness that I devoured. I couldn’t put the book down or pull myself away consuming it in a couple of heart-pounding days.
Purchase The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd.
Follow The Tattooed Book Geek: