The Memory Collectors // by Kim Neville
Pub Day: March 16, 2021
Publisher: Atria Books
Length: 400 pages
Affiliate Link: Buy here on Bookshop.org
Ev has a mysterious ability, one that she feels is more a curse than a gift. She can feel the emotions people leave behind on objects and believes that most of them need to be handled extremely carefully, and—if at all possible—destroyed. The harmless ones she sells at Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market to scrape together a living, but even that fills her with trepidation. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Harriet hoards thousands of these treasures and is starting to make her neighbors sick as the overabundance of heightened emotions start seeping through her apartment walls.
When the two women meet, Harriet knows that Ev is the only person who can help her make something truly spectacular of her collection. A museum of memory that not only feels warm and inviting but can heal the emotional wounds many people unknowingly carry around. They only know of one other person like them, and they fear the dark effects these objects had on him. Together, they help each other to develop and control their gift, so that what happened to him never happens again. But unbeknownst to them, the same darkness is wrapping itself around another, dragging them down a path that already destroyed Ev’s family once, and threatens to annihilate what little she has left.
I was very excited when the publisher sent me a print ARC for this book. The cover is gorgeous (it matches the story so well!) and the summary sounded fascinating, not like anything else I have read. I love epic fantasy books but I also find it so fun when a little bit of magic is mixed into the normal world that I myself am familiar with. It makes me wonder what kind of real magic might just be out there somewhere.
The Memory Collectors is Kim Neville’s debut novel. I have been enjoying reading authors’ first books for the past couple of months because it is fun to see where they start out and how they develop over time. While this book certainly is not perfect, I still think it is an absolutely fantastic start to this author’s career. I am a little disappointed with myself for not having saved a couple of quotes to include in my review because there is certainly some beautiful prose sprinkled throughout this novel. There are two POVs, Ev and Harriet, with quite different pasts that resulted in two distinctly different ways of viewing their gift – the ability to touch objects and feel the emotions of past owners.
The story feels a bit slow in parts but I still felt that each scene was there for a reason, whether to set up for later action or to give us better insight into the characters. I liked how it flipped to the past here and there, and how that allowed us to piece together little bits of the future as well. There isn’t as much happiness as you would hope for in a story about emotional magic, though there is a lot of hope for it at least that drives the characters forward and towards each other. The last third of the book is actually rather dark, more so than I usually read, and I was a little worried about it negatively influencing my opinion of the book since I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to scary things in books and movies, but I assure you that pushing through this to the end is well worth it. The different parts of the story in the end come together so well in a way that I had not expected at all but it is a fitting end to the story.
About the Author:
Kim Neville is a Vancouver-based author. Her short fiction has appeared in Imaginarium 3: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, Shimmer and On Spec. She attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2012. Her creative interests include everyday magic, hauntings, in-between spaces, abandoned buildings and people, family and relationship dynamics, the meaning of home and finding that which has been lost. Most of her stories take place in real-world settings with a twist of strangeness to cast the everyday in a new light. Kim’s current work in progress blends Little Women with Practical Magic.
Besides writing and reading, Kim enjoys very amateur photography, regular yoga practice and cooking for family and friends.
About the Publisher:
At Atria (Simon & Schuster), beloved, brand-name authors soar to new heights while the finest new voices are discovered and nurtured with an eye toward a limitless future. Among the many successful authors Atria is proud to publish are Jennifer Weiner, Brad Thor, Lisa Jewell, Sister Souljah, Rhonda Byrne, Fredrik Backman, Dr. Michael Mosley, and Kevin Hart.
Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.