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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Conjured

  1. 4 out of 5

    Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

    ✔ Witness Protection Program ✔ Magic ✔ Serial killer Let's be honest, this book had "Khanh Bait" written all over it. However, after reading the story, I cannot say that this is a book I would recommend. The writing is lovely, the descriptions and use of the carnival imagery will delight all fans of circus-themed things, but unfortunately, it failed to deliver on all three selling points. The use of the three items which I mentioned were completely arbitrary; besides the inclusion of magic, there w ✔ Witness Protection Program ✔ Magic ✔ Serial killer Let's be honest, this book had "Khanh Bait" written all over it. However, after reading the story, I cannot say that this is a book I would recommend. The writing is lovely, the descriptions and use of the carnival imagery will delight all fans of circus-themed things, but unfortunately, it failed to deliver on all three selling points. The use of the three items which I mentioned were completely arbitrary; besides the inclusion of magic, there was little relevance and mention of the serial killer or portrayal of Witness Protection Program that I had hoped to get. This is going to be a messy review because it's so hard for me to parse through my thoughts for a book of this nature. It felt so utterly disorganized. The plot was long-winded, confusing, and nonsensical. This book reminded me a lot of Another Little Piece in its surrealism and the massive wtf-ery of its plot. I'm not going to summarize the book because to do so beyond the jacket summary would be to spoil it, and it would ultimately be a Herculean feat for me to try, because I honestly had no idea what was going on for the latter half of the book. The first half was extremely slow and ultimately plotless; we are introduced to some supporting characters, namely the smart-aleck of an insta-love interest Zach, and the strangely inhuman (and supposedly intriguing) trio of Aiden, Victoria, and Topher, none of whom I felt contributed anything of significance or interest to the plot. I came into this book with high expectations. I know the real premise of the Witness Protection Program is not a pleasant experience. All the secrecy, all the sacrifices involved, not to mention the danger of having one's covers blown and having one's life endangered...it's harrowing. Still, I can't help but be fascinated. I especially love reading about teenagers in YA fiction involved in this program, imagining adjusting to a new life as a sullen, unwilling teenager. A normal move across cities, across states is traumatic enough to a teen, but becoming a whole new person? This sort of premise is so much more interesting for me as viewed from the psychological and behavioral standpoint of a teenager. It is a fascinating idea, and I absolutely jumped at the opportunity of reading this book. So, how well did it live up to the task and my expectations? It didn't. How the main character Eve adjusts to a new life, new schools, a new identity, was nonexistent. For one thing, this book took place in summer...translation: no school. Even so, Eve's interactions with others are so limited as to make me question the reason for her involvement within the program at all. The premise of the Witness Protection Program was nonexistent; the danger was not made evident enough for me to feel there was a purpose for its inclusion in the book as a selling point. Eve was a highly unsatisfying character. Her amnesia was really a plot device that I struggled with. Huge chunks of memory of her present life is missing. The narrative jumps around, whether it's days missing, or weeks missing, or months missing, we're not sure because of the unreliability of the narrator. It really frustrated me that I could not see what is going on in her life and how she was actually dealing with being in the WitSec program. Due to the nature of her amnesia, Eve is completely devoid of personality. She has had to relearn language, writing, the basics of everyday life, even terminology like "bread" versus "bagel." My problem is not that Eve does not remember the remnants of her previous personality, it is that throughout the book, she develops no personality of her own. The premise of the Witness Security Program (WitSec) in which she is enrolled might as well not have been there. In the beginning, we're shown how she has to learn her new identity, how she is given a history...and that's it. Eve interacts with so few people outside of her WitSec circle that the aspects of what I wanted to read about was nonexistent. Eve is so utterly passive as a character. Few people are nice to her, and her "Aunt" Nicki (read: Agent in charge of "babysitting" her) is a complete jerk. People are clearly hiding shit from Eve. There are all sorts of intimidating Men-In-Black type telling her what to do, how to act, being condescending and patronizing and just plain ANGRY at her because Eve cannot remember what it is that she is supposed to remember. Instead of standing up to herself, instead of demanding some sort of answer, taking some darned initiative...Eve just stands there feeling really sorry for herself, and so utterly apologetic that she can't deliver the answers that the Big Honchos want to hear. I just wanted her to grow a backbone. She finally does, but her actions ended up being utterly unbelievable, capricious, and unsupported by rationality. She was not a character I enjoyed at all. Of all the characters in this book, I ultimately ended up loving the agents the most. Malcolm is a sweetheart, and I loved his relationship with Eve. (and he's black! Yay for diversity!) I started off disliking Nicki, who was the personification of passive-aggressive bitchiness. However, her character grew more complex and eventually became someone with whom I sympathized, unlike the rest of the cast, who were utterly forgettable. The love story of Eve and Zach didn't interest me. For one thing, Zach is not a character that I found attractive, he is a smart-alecky type of boy, one of those smooth-tongued types who go off spouting factoids at you all day long and just never seem to fucking shut up. Right after meeting Eve, literally within seconds, this is what he says to her: "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." He is too glib, too smooth, Zach comes off more as a wise-cracking fool than a character I could relate to. The book promised me danger, excitement, magic: it promised me a serial killer, who was, for the majority of the book, completely absent. There was no sense of jeopardy, no blood, nothing that stimulated me. A few mentions of a serial killer chopping people up doesn't cut it for me, no pun intended. The word "killer" doesn't even emerge until a third of the book is through, and I honestly had no idea why Eve had to go into hiding and remain in such secrecy besides her vague and largely useless demonstrations of magic. Making forsythias bloom out of season, making birds fly off wallpapers, changing eye colors. The use of magic in this book is whimsical and flimsy, it did not deliver to my expectations; there was largely no purpose to the inclusion of magic and largely no point to it. The book took far, far too long to reach any level of excitement. The book seemed to pick up a lot at the halfway point, but even though there was a lot of excitement and a lot of things going on, nothing made sense to me. There are a ridiculous number of things that went unexplained, and the world-building of the big reveal, while beautiful...just didn't make any sense. It wasn't until 95% of the book, in which things are literally spoon-fed to us in the form of an expository trial that I finally went "Oh! So that's what was happening." This is not good, guys. In short: good writing, beautiful descriptions and use of carnival/circus imagery, but not recommended due to the nonsensical and uncompelling plot. I received a copy of this book for review through Netgalley. The quotes used in this review are taken from an e-galley and is subject to change in the final edition.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tamora Pierce

    Technically this book is YA, but any adult who denies it to her/himself for that reason will be missing something incredible. Technically it's also fantasy, but there's a touch of science fiction. Technically it's also a mystery thriller, but without the other elements it wouldn't have left me tied up in knots and speculating through a session of having my backbone stretched where the *h*ell* Sarah was going with this. I never, NEVER would have figured it out; neither will you. When you do find Technically this book is YA, but any adult who denies it to her/himself for that reason will be missing something incredible. Technically it's also fantasy, but there's a touch of science fiction. Technically it's also a mystery thriller, but without the other elements it wouldn't have left me tied up in knots and speculating through a session of having my backbone stretched where the *h*ell* Sarah was going with this. I never, NEVER would have figured it out; neither will you. When you do find out each and every surprise in this book, I hope you will be as blown away as I am. Eve is a girl without a past, with only shreds of a memory, with no knowledge of what she likes to eat, how a seatbelt works, what she can do in the everyday world, how she can do some very odd things, why she forgets so much, and why Malcolm and Aunt Nicki have placed so many rules and restrictions on her life. We know what witness protection is, but Eve doesn't. We also know what magic is, but Eve isn't sure. She doesn't know why Aunt Nicki isn't kind to her but Malcolm is, what the fifth floor means, and where her visions come from. Who are the Magician and the Storyteller? The only persons she trusts are Malcolm and her exuberant, frank, charming co-worker Zach--but could Eve be leading danger to them? Okay, I can't write anything else without spoilers. Readreadread this book, please! I don't say this because Sarah Beth Durst is my friend. I say it because she has knocked me butt over teakettle.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ♥Rachel♥

    I can't take this book anymore. The plot is going nowhere and doesn't seem to be picking up anytime soon. Nothing but confusion, and there is nothing that's grabbing my attention. DNF @16% may seem early on to quit but at this point its grating on my last nerve. I can't take this book anymore. The plot is going nowhere and doesn't seem to be picking up anytime soon. Nothing but confusion, and there is nothing that's grabbing my attention. DNF @16% may seem early on to quit but at this point its grating on my last nerve.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    Eve can't remember who she is or where she's from, but there are government agents with her, protecting her. They say that her mind holds the key to solving the case(s) of a serial killer, but she can't even remember her own parents. How is she going to help save others when she can't even recall what happened last week? And, why is she able to make birds fly out of wallpaper? That's not normal... is it? Conjured is a fluffy, young adult fantasy that tip-toes around the horror genre but, mainly, Eve can't remember who she is or where she's from, but there are government agents with her, protecting her. They say that her mind holds the key to solving the case(s) of a serial killer, but she can't even remember her own parents. How is she going to help save others when she can't even recall what happened last week? And, why is she able to make birds fly out of wallpaper? That's not normal... is it? Conjured is a fluffy, young adult fantasy that tip-toes around the horror genre but, mainly, remains safely in the real world of amnesia and teenage angst. This book suffers from a glacial pacing but the mystery part of the story really took me by surprise. As I mentioned, the horror elements in this story are minimal but there are some brief and not terribly graphic descriptions of blood, mental anguish, bondage, imprisonment, physical violence, and creepy circus folk. My favorite parts of this book happened during Eve's blackout moments or visions. They read like scary fairy tales: "It always begins with 'once upon a time,' my dear. That is how it is, even if 'once upon a time' is now." Gnarled hands separate the strands of my hair and wind them around knuckles. "A witch...for of course there was a witch. There always is, isn't there? She had stars in her eyes and dust in her hair. She heard the sounds of the forest when she moved and the ocean when she spoke." pg 14 ebook. The visions set the tone of this story. They're like nightmares for Eve- profoundly disturbing, but not real. Or are they? I loved that Eve took a job as a library assistant. The craziest things happen at the library but it was also a place of safety for her when she couldn't remember anything else: "Libraries... they're the places with stories," Eve said. Closing her eyes, she tried to summon up a memory of a library. Shelves of books. Sunlight falling across a table. She saw spiral stairs. It could have been a real place, or Malcolm could have shown her a picture at some point. It felt like a real place." pg 17, ebook The extraordinarily slow unfolding of Eve's background was frustrating: "You can't do any magic here. There is no magic in this world- that's why this place is safe for you." She held her face still. Another hint about her past. He had told her so much in those few sentences, more than he'd ever told her before. There is no magic in this world, she thought. I'm from another world? pg 21, ebook. I don't know... you tell me! The teenage love story in Conjured is cute and very John Green-esque: "Because when I'm with you, I feel whole," he said. "Because with you, life doesn't feel brutish and short. It feels beautiful... and short." pg 176 ebook. So, if you can tolerate an extremely slow reveal, pick up Conjured. Some read-alikes: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (circus themes, slow story) or Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace (a girl is asked by a ghost to help him find someone he's lost).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Houck

    I can honestly say I've never read a book like this before. This one is a slow burn and you won't know exactly what's going on until you get into the last third of the story, but once you do, it's a surprising turn of events entirely unexpected. I really love how the magic works. My favorite scene was the paper birds. I can honestly say I've never read a book like this before. This one is a slow burn and you won't know exactly what's going on until you get into the last third of the story, but once you do, it's a surprising turn of events entirely unexpected. I really love how the magic works. My favorite scene was the paper birds.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Abida's Book Adventures

    Maybe I should have read the reviews for this book before reading it. That would have not wasted my time on this book. At the beginning it seemed interesting and then........ I hated it.(like wow you ruined what-could-have-been a good really good book). The book was missing all the action, exciting danger and serial killer moments. Instead I'm left with a book, filled with boredom. The only exciting part in this book was at the very end. Not even the part when killer was chopping up bodies all t Maybe I should have read the reviews for this book before reading it. That would have not wasted my time on this book. At the beginning it seemed interesting and then........ I hated it.(like wow you ruined what-could-have-been a good really good book). The book was missing all the action, exciting danger and serial killer moments. Instead I'm left with a book, filled with boredom. The only exciting part in this book was at the very end. Not even the part when killer was chopping up bodies all those bodies got me excited. Even the characters in this book got me annoyed. I was promised reading about magic.... well I didn't that. All I got was a girl making birds come out from her wallpaper(like that's really how your going to use your magical powers). Plus half the things in this book wasn't explained until the very end (like really I have to read the end of the book to find out about a simple thing). In the end I was just really disappointed and thought that I was going to read a good book.... but I guess not.

  7. 5 out of 5

    ~Tina~

    I've been a big fan of Sarah Beth Durst since her debut novel, Ice. Since then, I always look forward to anything this women writes. Her stories are always so full of life, bursting with imagination and cunning creativity and always so much fun to lose myself within these pages. Once again, Durst brings out the larger then life quality she pours into her books, with her newest novel, Conjured. Only, this time she took it one step further, bringing in an animated cast and story line fit for a mag I've been a big fan of Sarah Beth Durst since her debut novel, Ice. Since then, I always look forward to anything this women writes. Her stories are always so full of life, bursting with imagination and cunning creativity and always so much fun to lose myself within these pages. Once again, Durst brings out the larger then life quality she pours into her books, with her newest novel, Conjured. Only, this time she took it one step further, bringing in an animated cast and story line fit for a magical mystery and whimsical journey of self-discover, power and truth. To be honest, this story line is very different then anything I've read from Durst before. I've read magic in books before, but the way this was delivered was unusually unique, unpredictably strange and evasively written. Some may say that this was confusing and even frustrating, and well, they'd be right, and yet I still found myself mesmerized by this odd little book with even odder characters. But I figured out something while reading. I think that this book isn't meant to be read from just Eve's point of view, but actually read through her. Once I got that mind-set, It was easier to be invested with Eve's story right till the very end and appreciate Durst vivid vision and delicious dedication to making this book standout in a creepy, crafty and clever way. This plot is more then a typical story about a girl named Eve who has no memories. She's lost and broken in every way possible. All Eve knows at this point is that she has a new face and a new body and that she's been in the witness protection program for months, hiding from someone or something. She knows that Malcolm is kind and considerate and that 'Aunt' Nicki thinks she's a waste of perfectly good space. She knows that she can't remember and has to be taught the basics of everyday functions; objects, places and people. She also loses time and has problems with her short term memory. When she does finally remember something it's in the form of flashes of unhinged visions of an eerie carnival, a story-teller and a madman, that is followed every time she does something magical. Magic, yes, Eve can do magic, but she doesn't know why or how. Ever inch of this book is covered with questions and I constantly felt like I was missing something. The dialog read like I was already in the middle of whole conversations but not understanding the whole picture, back and forth banter, punch lines or the inside jokes. There were gaps of time that skips and jumps ahead which made this feel very disconnecting and peculiar, but still bizarrely intriguing. We are meant to be frustrated and confused right along with Eve. We are meant to learn with her. Eve seems to be the missing link. She's the answers to everything. The case, Zach, Aidan and even the deranged killer, but her own answers turned out to be very different and when we get to those revelations, everything about this odd little book will just click beautifully and disturbingly into place. I really enjoyed all of these characters. They were all eccentric and wonderfully weird in their own ways. Eve is a child-like character that felt like she was in pieces throughout the entire story. Twisted and tormented by the horrific and strange visions that don't make any real sense, but it's the only thing real that she has. She doesn't know who she can trust or believe in and who is really out to help her or harm her. She's sweet and gentle and kind, but she's also determined and brave. Her story is a a sad one and my heart goes out to her. Zach is a very random and boldly honest character who is very intense and passionate. He doesn't lie and later we find out why. The connection he has with Eve doesn't have any rhyme or reason to it. It just is. They give a whole new meaning to magical kisses and breathing each other in. They give us a reason to believe and hope and they made me smile. Malcolm was one of my favorite characters. He greatly cared about what happened to Eve and it showed with every kind gesture. Aidan was more a means to an end, but he played his part well and brought in conflicting emotions that stirred the story line perfectly. All in all, I had a lot of fun with this book. It's dark and twisted and it bends your mind and makes you believe in the impossible. It takes fantasy into that unknown dimension where everything and anything can happen. It's the stuff that makes Durst books great. She's not afraid to be daring and different and it shows with this extraordinary novel. Conjured is an entertaining and engaging escape fit for fans who like their books a little above abnormal but still just as amazing and fantastical as we come to expect from this wonderful talent. I look forward to seeing what Durst has in store for us next. Bravo!

  8. 4 out of 5

    TheBookSmugglers

    Original review posted on The Book Smugglers Eve doesn’t recognise the face when she looks in the mirror, she has no true memory of her past and can barely function in the present. Everything – from walking and talking to understanding how the world works is all new to her. She’s been told she has lost her memory. She’s been told she is in a witness protection program for paranormal creatures, hiding from a creepy serial killer who is out to get her. She’s been told she is the key to find him and Original review posted on The Book Smugglers Eve doesn’t recognise the face when she looks in the mirror, she has no true memory of her past and can barely function in the present. Everything – from walking and talking to understanding how the world works is all new to her. She’s been told she has lost her memory. She’s been told she is in a witness protection program for paranormal creatures, hiding from a creepy serial killer who is out to get her. She’s been told she is the key to find him and to stop his killing spree. She’s been told she needs to remember before it is too late and more young kids disappear. She’s been told she can trust the people who are helping her even if they look at her with distaste and mistrust. She’s been told. There are certain things she knows though. She knows she has undergone several reconstructive surgeries. She knows she can do magic – she looks at the mirror one day and decides that her eyes were actually green before and just like that, they are changed. She knows that every time she uses her magic, she passes out and has horrifying dreams (or are they visions?) always featuring a carnival tent, a magician, a storyteller and creepy dolls. When she wakes up after those black-outs she realises that days or sometimes even weeks have passed and she has no short-term memory of those moments. Conjured is a beautifully constructed novel that goes from utterly disorienting to exceptionally horrific as its story progresses. It features an ubber-creepy carnival, a supernatural serial killer and an amnesic narrator. But its true core is a story about agency and identity and what it is like to forge both when there is no memory, no past, no sense of true self to start with. It is more or less divided in two parts: the first is a progressive build-up to the revelations that appear in the second part. The former, a disorienting advance toward the truth about Eve, the latter an affecting horror story unlike anything I have read of late. What impresses me the most about the novel is Eve as a character and the writing of her narrative. Since everything is from her point of view, we only ever know what Eve knows and she knows very, very little. When she wakes up with no memory, we are as lost as she is, not knowing who to trust, what happened in the past days or weeks. It is not only disorienting but also claustrophobic. More to the point though, I loved how the author took such a gamble with Eve because she is essentially a blank slate narrator. To start with, she has little personality and no agency. And it is very interesting to see the way that the character progresses, not knowing who she is, what she can do, and what happened to her. Which is awesome because I sometimes feel that “strong female character” is often compared to kickass and immediately assertive so it is kind of a breath of fresh air to have a character like Eve who is developing her sense of self slowly and who is a quiet, timid character without being any less strong for that. When the second part comes and the deeply cruel, creepy and dark nature of her story is finally revealed, we come to have not only a deep understanding of why Eve is like she is and how important it really is when she finally voices her choice and forges her own sense of self. All of this was superb: from the puzzling narrative to the development of Eve as a character, from her visions and fear to the creepily awesome horror in the latter part. My only real misgiving about the novel comes with its romantic storyline and I confess to be on two minds about it. On the one hand, there is an element of insta-love as Eve has an almost immediate connection to a boy named Zach whom she meets at the library where she is sent to work. I was immediately put off by Zach when as soon as he met Eve she told her point-blank that they could never be friends because he wanted to kiss her. Okay, then. On the other hand, Zach turn out to be a nice boy, who never lies (there are Reasons) and who is completely loyal to Eve. It is yet another breath of fresh air to have the guy be so besotted and awed to the point of being ready to drop everything for the girl – as abrupt as that turns out to be. The ending though is kind of perfect for them and for this story in the way that it is flawed and even perhaps, questionable. Ultimately, this book is All About Eve and I really loved it, just as it is.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Okay, wow. Wow.wow.wow.wow. Wow. I know Sarah Beth Durst. I met her shortly after her first book (INTO THE WILD) and mine came out, and I've followed her wonderful career ever since. Every one of her books has been something different, and but they are always, ALWAYS, good. And then came CONJURED. Sweet fancy Moses. I mean, this might very well be her best book yet. Much as I love ICE, there was something about this book that really went . . . okay, this book is off the rails. In a good way. It's won Okay, wow. Wow.wow.wow.wow. Wow. I know Sarah Beth Durst. I met her shortly after her first book (INTO THE WILD) and mine came out, and I've followed her wonderful career ever since. Every one of her books has been something different, and but they are always, ALWAYS, good. And then came CONJURED. Sweet fancy Moses. I mean, this might very well be her best book yet. Much as I love ICE, there was something about this book that really went . . . okay, this book is off the rails. In a good way. It's wonderful and creepy and intense. Towards the end something happens that made me actually shriek "WHAT?!" out loud, scaring my toddler. So well written, so inventive, I've never read anything like it. It did remind me of CORALINE, but yet it's . . . different. So different. And also, "WHAT?!" PS - Speaking of Neil Gaiman, if you are a fan of his All Hallows Reads (where you buy to gift or read a creepy Halloween-ish book), this would be my pick! For teens and older.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Evie

    An ambitious, visually dazzling and completely breathtaking literary triumph - Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst is an absolute must-read for any paranormal fantasy fan out there. This book makes for an extremely compelling, refreshing and emotionally engaging journey - one that you'll want to re-take time and time again. It's entirely unique. It's seamlessly plotted. It's dark and creepy, yet mesmerizing and magical at the same time. Hands down one of my top favorite books ever. Conjured is a gorgeou An ambitious, visually dazzling and completely breathtaking literary triumph - Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst is an absolute must-read for any paranormal fantasy fan out there. This book makes for an extremely compelling, refreshing and emotionally engaging journey - one that you'll want to re-take time and time again. It's entirely unique. It's seamlessly plotted. It's dark and creepy, yet mesmerizing and magical at the same time. Hands down one of my top favorite books ever. Conjured is a gorgeously told story - one that explores themes of identity, belonging, destiny and love. Reading it was a truly magical experience. I was mesmerized and amazed every step of the way. I loved everything about this book - the luscious detail in which the carnival backdrop was described, the horror of Eve's dreams and visions, the hidden symbolism and the perfectly satisfying ending. This tale was both uplifting and heartbreaking, sad and wonderfully hopeful. Full of meaning. I loved how new and fresh everything felt - I've never read anything like it before! Every page of Conjured shines with creativity and uniqueness. The plot line itself was incredibly well thought out and gripping. I did not want to stop reading. I loved the mystery behind Eve's character and how it slowly unravelled through visions and dreams. Many aspects of this tale were downright scary - like the magician-turned-serial-killer who would cut his victims into pieces and then keep their remains in special boxes, or Eve's disturbing memories resurfacing while she was unconscious - but there were also other aspects of it that were incredibly beautiful, meaningful and moving. Some of them were positive and heart-warming, others.. simply tragic. The complexity of this story was at times overpowering (in a good way) and I felt heavy with so many feelings and emotions this story brought on. Durst' heroines are always fierce, tough, clever and persistent - like Pearl, the kick-ass vampire girl with a conscience who has to save an entire town from being slaughtered, or Liyana, the girl who has to sacrifice her own life and dreams in order for her tribe to survive. They're always three dimensional, intelligent, witty and relatable. You meet them, you get to know them and you end up caring for them, like they're not just characters in a book, but real life people. And Eve is no exception. She's a mystery to everyone, including herself - lost and scared, and yet determined to discover who she really is and why her memories are so important to the people protecting her. She's special and different, and there's a shocking secret in her past... Sarah Beth Durst is incredibly talented. I am a huge fan of hers - always ready to drop everything else to read her new book the moment I get my hands on it. Seriously, no one does it better. She doesn't rewrite old tales, she creates all her stories, settings and characters from scratch. Her world and character building skills are top notch and her books deserve to be loved, cherished and raved about. I can't wait to see what other stories she'll pull out of her magical hat!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    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 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melanti

    I've tried to read this three or four times since I bought it. I don't know what it is, but something about it annoys me, so I never made more than 10-20 pages before putting it back on the TBR stack. This afternoon, I skimmed what I'd read before (still vaguely annoying) and tried to move on from there.... Shortly after, a guy named Zach is introduced... Instalove, I suspect. Ugh. One of my pet peeves - especially in YA books. That by itself is annoying enough but how does he introduce himself? "I I've tried to read this three or four times since I bought it. I don't know what it is, but something about it annoys me, so I never made more than 10-20 pages before putting it back on the TBR stack. This afternoon, I skimmed what I'd read before (still vaguely annoying) and tried to move on from there.... Shortly after, a guy named Zach is introduced... Instalove, I suspect. Ugh. One of my pet peeves - especially in YA books. That by itself is annoying enough but how does he introduce himself? "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.” Then a couple of sentences later: “Glad you didn’t freak when I said I want to kiss you. I’ll wait for an invitation, of course, but I believe in being up front about these kinds of things. Prevents misunderstandings later. I don’t want you thinking that we can ever be just friends. Unless it’s friends with benefits.” Nope, sorry. Unless a meteor falls out of the sky and lands on this jerk's head, or unless someone slaps the creep, I'm done. I refuse to read a book with an asshole love interest. I read another ten pages or so, hoping it'd redeem itself, but no... Zach disappears, thankfully, but even the scenes with just Eve and the adults are still annoying - though I just can't put my finger on exactly why. It might get better - It must have SOMETHING in it worthy of the Mythopoeic Award nomination, after all, but ... ugh. I can't imagine wading through hundreds of pages of this, so I'll just quit now.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Marie

    Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst 1.25 stars “I’m not an unformed cloud. I’m a cloud that’s broken open, and my insides are pouring out like rain.” Eve can’t remember where she came from. All she knows is that she is a witness to a horrible crime and that she is in a witness protection program. The crime she witnessed involves magic wielded by a serial killer. At night she dreams of carnival tents and buttons being sewn into her skin. The powers that come from inside of her drain her. Who is she and can Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst 1.25 stars “I’m not an unformed cloud. I’m a cloud that’s broken open, and my insides are pouring out like rain.” Eve can’t remember where she came from. All she knows is that she is a witness to a horrible crime and that she is in a witness protection program. The crime she witnessed involves magic wielded by a serial killer. At night she dreams of carnival tents and buttons being sewn into her skin. The powers that come from inside of her drain her. Who is she and can she find out before the killer finds her? This should’ve checked all of my boxes. It should’ve been a book that I absolutely loved. Carnivals, magic wielding serial killers, working at a library, and dark magic. These are all yeses for me, but this book is a large NO. My whole reading experience consisted of me debating the pros and cons of DNFing this book. Naturally, I don’t have fond memories of reading Conjured and in fact, I’ve basically scrubbed it from my mind. It was not the book I wanted and I was so incredibly disappointed. The writing is all over the place and disjointed. There is no concise direction and the precision of the story is lost in Durst’s need to focus and incorporate meaningless and pointless conversations, descriptions, and scenes that take the reader out of the story. The only thing that saved this novel for me was the ending. If this had been a short story, I believe it would have been an incredibly strong one. This idea wasn’t fleshed out brilliantly and if the editors cut everything out and focused specifically on Eve’s origins then this would’ve been a win. Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.5 “If my insides were a bookshelf, she thought, I’d be a jumble of volumes, stacked in random order and filled with blank pages.” Who is Eve? To be honest, she spends the majority of the novel being defined by her toxic relationship on a domineering teenage boy instead of being defined by her own self. Did I like her? Not really, but she wasn’t developed enough for me to hate her. I was just tired of rolling my eyes into my head every time she made some disgusting comment about how Zach “saves” her or “breathes life into her”. Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2 I’m tired of romantic leads like Zach. He was absolutely disgusting. Nothing about him was redeeming and I wanted to scream with rage every time he opened his mouth in a scene. “I don’t want you thinking that we can ever be friends. Unless it’s friends with benefits.” Swoon Worthy Scale: -1 The Villain- I wish the villain was creepy or scary, but this story was too dang boring and incongruent to make any villain feel real or intimidating. The concept of him is interesting and I wanted more. Villain Scale: 2 This novel left me feeling unfulfilled. It wanted to go in so many promising places was overwhelmed by a horrible romance, pointless plots, and poor character development. I stand by that this novel would’ve worked better as a short story. It’s quite disappointing really. I’ll never tell someone not to read a novel, but if you decide to pass on this one, you won’t be missing out. Plotastic Scale: 1.25 Cover Thoughts: I absolutely adore this cover. It’s creepy and weird. Thank you, Netgalley and Walker Childrens for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nidofito

    This book has no rhyme or reason. Most of it is completely shrouded in mystery and a heroine with memory-loss that faints every time she casts magic (I mean, really) and the development in the last few chapters does absolutely nothing to the elevate the story or endear the characters to me. It's just all around bizarre. (view spoiler)[ Did Eve change herself into a human at the end or did she remain a doll? Is she essentially Zach's blow-up doll? (hide spoiler)] This book has no rhyme or reason. Most of it is completely shrouded in mystery and a heroine with memory-loss that faints every time she casts magic (I mean, really) and the development in the last few chapters does absolutely nothing to the elevate the story or endear the characters to me. It's just all around bizarre. (view spoiler)[ Did Eve change herself into a human at the end or did she remain a doll? Is she essentially Zach's blow-up doll? (hide spoiler)]

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shambhawi P.

    Tomorrow it will be full three months since I read this book. Surprising, really. As a book that has left such a lasting impression in me I cannot even determine whether I loved this book or hated this book for it to be so unforgettable. Three months and I can still conjure images of the Storyteller sewing buttons into Eve's skin and it still leaves me in goosebumps. I can picture the desperation of the Magician's victims. I can picture the black whirlpool of Eve's memories - of losing hours, days, Tomorrow it will be full three months since I read this book. Surprising, really. As a book that has left such a lasting impression in me I cannot even determine whether I loved this book or hated this book for it to be so unforgettable. Three months and I can still conjure images of the Storyteller sewing buttons into Eve's skin and it still leaves me in goosebumps. I can picture the desperation of the Magician's victims. I can picture the black whirlpool of Eve's memories - of losing hours, days, weeks into nothingness - and I can picture her desperation too. Confusing, really, because throughout the entire book I was struggling to finish it. I almost gave up around the middle and posted a DNF review, but only the fact that this was a Sarah Beth Durst book held me back from giving up. One small fact here: if I had to name three of my favorite authors of ALL time, Durst would be in it. That's true even after this book. I hated the narrative while reading the book. Eve's craziness made me dizzy, the plot felt scattered, the entire story a mess. Somehow it all ended as abruptly as it had begun. The romance was rushed, unsatisfactory and utterly a convenient plot-device. The characters were confusing and hard to keep track of. And the story had many holes from the first-person-narrative protagonist's amnesia... It did not make sense. And I rated it two stars. Rounded off from a 1.5 Stars, maybe? And I slept on the rating. That night I dreamt of the caravan tents and boxes that trapped people and buttons being sewn into skin and magic. I liked the book a lot more the next day. It did not start making sense suddenly, no, but the craziness and the mess somehow felt like a part of the charm of the book. The vivid imagery still dancing in my head I cleared the rating off my Goodreads account. The star shaped boxes have remained empty since then. Tomorrow it will be full three months since I read this book. But none of the hundred books I have read after this can I remember with the stark imagery that I do Conjured. Do I like this book? Sometimes I think I do, sometimes I think I don't. It confuses the hell out me. But I cannot forget this book. And that is why Sarah Beth Durst is an amazing author. No rating. It is better, I think to not confine my thoughts on some books in numbers.

  16. 4 out of 5

    LPJ

    2.5 stars If you can make it through the first half of this book, you will be rewarded with the second half. Things will make sense, a richly imagined and inventive story will emerge with a perfect ending. However, to get there you must suffer a bit. Suffer through the tedium of a main character that has no memories for far too long. Suffer through dialogue that sounds like it comes from a CW TV show. So much banter. There are great magical ideas, but the shroud of mystery is claustrophobic. We do 2.5 stars If you can make it through the first half of this book, you will be rewarded with the second half. Things will make sense, a richly imagined and inventive story will emerge with a perfect ending. However, to get there you must suffer a bit. Suffer through the tedium of a main character that has no memories for far too long. Suffer through dialogue that sounds like it comes from a CW TV show. So much banter. There are great magical ideas, but the shroud of mystery is claustrophobic. We don't know enough for way too long. We get hints, sure, disconnected visions that Eve has when she blacks out after performing magic. She's in the magical witness protection program because she's either the witness or a potential target of gruesome magical-related crimes. The key to catching a serial killer lays in her broken memories. She doesn't know who she is, where she came from and very basic things like how to use a seat belt. Her handlers, Malcolm and Nikki, try to normalize her, getting her a job, having her socialize with other people. It's summer, so we're spared any high school drama, but we muddle through along with Eve as she loses chunks of time, days or weeks, and copes with strange visions while not being able to tell anyone. Zach, a boy she meets at the library, is both a breath of fresh air and an incredible dork. He's not your usual teen love interest, he's got verbal diarrhea, is an encyclopedia of random trivia, but he's endearing and somehow I loved him. I was so, so close to DNFing this half way through, but I pushed on, wanting to be rewarded for sticking with it for so long... and I was. I really did enjoy the last third or so, once we finally started to understand what was going on. I love magic and there are parts of this story that call to mind Daughter of Smoke and Bone (which is a masterpiece). Conjured (btw the title really doesn't make much sense, but it at least will make folks pick up the book) features very fine writing, interesting work with POV that I really appreciated and strong characters. If the mystery had been a bit better paced it would have gotten 4 stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    CONJURED was breath-taking, amazing, compulsively compelling, and totally awesome. I run out of superlatives when I think about this story. The main character is Eve who begins the story in a new home, with a new face, and no memories of her past. She is told that she is a witness to a crime and under the protection of the US Marshall's service. Malcolm is one of the marshals who are protecting her and he is the one she can trust who helps orient her to the world around her. She is given a job a CONJURED was breath-taking, amazing, compulsively compelling, and totally awesome. I run out of superlatives when I think about this story. The main character is Eve who begins the story in a new home, with a new face, and no memories of her past. She is told that she is a witness to a crime and under the protection of the US Marshall's service. Malcolm is one of the marshals who are protecting her and he is the one she can trust who helps orient her to the world around her. She is given a job as a library page and gets to meet Zach who is a wonderful character as well. He is constantly spouting trivia and totally honest and accepting. Zach is the one piece of her life that she can count on despite her horrifying visions and memory lapses. And together they can do amazing magic. We gradually learn that the Marshals are trying to track down a serial killer and that there are multiple worlds with all sorts of amazing beings. Earth just happens to be the one without magic which should make it a safe place for Eve. Eve's visions help the marshals track down the killer. Durst thanks her nightmares for her inspiration for this story. It is true that the story unfolds something like a nightmare with abrupt transitions and surreal events. But at heart for me this is the story of what it means to be real and what it costs too. I highly recommend this amazing story to all fans of fantasy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I was first drawn to this book due to the simple, yet striking cover. I thought the heart with pin needles stuck through it was quite intriguing and the title Conjured got me very excited to read about magic! However, the blurb makes it sound a lot more exciting and gripping than it actually was. 150 pages in and I was still left waiting for something spectacular to occur. I found I couldn't connect with any of the characters and I found them to be quite dull and lackluster. The plot, while orig I was first drawn to this book due to the simple, yet striking cover. I thought the heart with pin needles stuck through it was quite intriguing and the title Conjured got me very excited to read about magic! However, the blurb makes it sound a lot more exciting and gripping than it actually was. 150 pages in and I was still left waiting for something spectacular to occur. I found I couldn't connect with any of the characters and I found them to be quite dull and lackluster. The plot, while original and beautifully descriptive, just did not captivate me enough. It took a lot of pushing on my part to keep reading. The story did pick up, but it was very late in the novel before I was actually interested enough to care what would happen to the characters and how this twisted tale would play out. Because it was seriously twisted. Eve, our main character, is suffering from memory loss. She has no recollection of who she is, where she came from. She just knows she is under the direction of a guy named Malcolm and a woman she calls Aunt Nicki, and she has been placed in the witness protection program. Her safety is their number one priority, but they are also trying to acclimate her by encouraging her to have some sort of semblance of a life. Eve was a difficult character to relate to, because she couldn't even relate to herself. She is literally a blank slate- She has no memories, only visions of scenes she doesn't understand. She ends up taking a job at a library, another safe haven, which will hopefully help her adjust to her new identity. It is here she meets Zach, the quirky but sweet boy who ends up being a source of strength for Eve. "Allergies? I'm allergic to cats. Not cats themselves, per se. Hairless cats are fine. It's the cat dandruff, caught in the fur. Need serious anti-cat-dandruff shampoo." His hair had slid over his eyes as he talked; he shook it back and smiled at her. "Glad you didn't freak out when I said I want to kiss you. I'll wait for an invitation, of course, but I believe in being up front about these kinds of things. Prevents misunderstandings later. I don't want you thinking that we can ever just be friends. Unless it's friends with benefits." (e-ARC 28) I supposed I liked Zach's character. He was quirky and strange with his babbling, which Eve ended up liking. However, after kissing Eve for the first time and realize that they're flying due to her magic, he doesn't freak out or act like she's some kind of freak herself. The way Zach handles her having magic just wasn't very believable. After he learns how Eve's magic works, it almost seems like he wants to kiss her to make magic, not because he truly has feelings for her. However, as the book wears on and we see the choices Zach makes, I felt that if he didn't have feelings for her, he would not have made those decisions or put himself on the line for her safety. However, getting a new job isn't the only thing in the cards for Eve. Malcolm brings her to the office so she can interact with some other kids her age, who have magic. Aidan, Topher, and Victoria seem nice enough- until they begin testing her to see what she can do with her magic. It is after their encounter we discover that Eve's visions and memory loss are tied to her using her magic. This is where I really began to feel for Eve. She is starting to make new memories and associations and then she has time ripped away from her, where she doesn't remember her own actions or what she was doing. I did not care for Aidan, Topher, or Victoria. They were not developed enough and what we did see of them wasn't anything to write home about. They were vindictive and only had their own agenda to consider. Victoria and Topher do not play as a great a role as Aidan does, however. After a blackout, Aidan shows Eve affection and I groaned at the thought of there being a love triangle. Aidan is the gorgeous, bad boy who oozes confidence and sexuality, where Zach is the nerdy kid who works in the library. Luckily, Eve's relationship with both boys did not take the love triangle route. Aidan's affection for Eve is only there to serve a higher purpose. Malcolm is my favorite of the two agents. He really cares about Eve and wants what is best for her. He does not want his superiors pushing her to remember and access her past memories. He wants her to be able to remember them on her own in hopes it won't be too overwhelming for her. However, the agency is on a timetable. Eve's memories are the key to stopping a serial killer from killing more innocent kids. The more Eve uses her magic and blacks out, the more likely she is to remember her visions. Aunt Nicki was a complete bitch. She was rude to Eve and clearly did not want to be the one to baby-sit her and take care of her. As I said earlier, it wasn't until the last part of the book where things actually picked up and I was interested. Seeing Eve put together the pieces of her visions/memories, finding out who the serial killer was, and discovering the true nature of Eve as a whole (Which, I'll be honest- I never saw coming.) managed to perk me up enough to push through to the end. I kept hoping Eve would end up developing her own personality, but that wasn't something I really saw occur. After discovering her true nature, she just gave up. It is Zach, who is the one to encourage her to fight and remind her of all the things he liked about her. Unfortunately, this wasn't the book for me. Lackluster characters, lack of character development, and a slow moving plot were all negatives for me, though I did think Durst has a beautiful writing style and her descriptions were very well done, especially of Eve's scrambled visions. While I would not personally recommend this one, it is certainly one you would have to gauge for yourself. *Received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aryana Parmar

    This was a good book... like definitely, I did not expect it to be this good. My first impression was maybe a 3, a 3.5, but I say this is a solid 4.5. It was a little confusing at times, but it was good. I definitely just skimmed through parts of it, but it was good. Yeah.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anka

    Okay, I'm sorry friend, but I pretty much hated this book. That extra star up there? That's because I feel bad about hating this book when she liked it so much. (*spoilers abound! Be warned!*) SO I suppose you've read the blurb to get this far, right? Witness protection program, creepy magical serial killer, the works? Yeah I'm here to tell you that there's a lot less creepy magical serial killer and witness protection program than there is cringey instalove, awkward snark, and a heroine who's pre Okay, I'm sorry friend, but I pretty much hated this book. That extra star up there? That's because I feel bad about hating this book when she liked it so much. (*spoilers abound! Be warned!*) SO I suppose you've read the blurb to get this far, right? Witness protection program, creepy magical serial killer, the works? Yeah I'm here to tell you that there's a lot less creepy magical serial killer and witness protection program than there is cringey instalove, awkward snark, and a heroine who's pretty fucking stupid. Speaking of which, OH MY GOD I HATE ZACH. WHAT A PIECE OF SHIT HUMAN BEING. He introduces himself to the heroine by saying "it's too bad it's customary to shake hands when greeting someone, because all I want to do is kiss you and see if you taste like strawberries" (paraphrased). What the hell kind of person talks like that? What the hell kind of person hears that and thinks "oh, suitable love interest material right here mmmmmm yeah" Really, I'm gagging. And honestly, I would have maybe enjoyed the story if fucking Zach didn't exist and wasn't shoehorned in there because, let's not forget, this is a YA book and YA books have ALL THE DOUCHEY LOVE INTERESTS. I didn't like Eve either. She was like a limp cabbage or something. She couldn't make up her mind to do anything, and she was so passive all the time. The only time I noticed her actually doing something was when she kind of pushed Aidan away (but even then, she couldn't bother telling him outright to fuck off). I know this book is supposed to be some kind of thriller mindfuck but I guessed the living doll part right after the first vision, the dead people's powers get transferred to Eve so she can contain them/give powers to others right after she kissed fucking Zachary that first time. So I was really less reading this book for the """thrills""" and more for the "if this goes the way I think it will, fuck this book." IT WAS THE MOST OBVIOUS WAY TO DO THIS EVER. There was no action until the last 30 pages of the book. I thought this was gonna have crazy serial killer chases and witness protection agents shooting people to keep Eve safe, but nah. We just got Eve working in a library, kissing fucking Zachary and *gasp* not passing out! Eve losing her memories. Eve dealing with 3 other teenagers who have powers and speak exclusively bad sarcasm. Eve. Eating. Bagels. *loud gasp from audience, someone faints* The witness protection agents go out like little bitches even though they're supposed to be good at defending against superpowered assholes. And after everything, they don't give the Magic serial killer the death penalty. But that doesn't matter, because in the end fucking Zachary and Eve run away and--in a twist of hilarious irony--use Eve's stolen powers for the EXACT SAME REASON as the Magician and the Storyteller did. But because Eve is the good girl, it's okay for her to use powers stolen from people who were violently tortured and chopped to pieces to get her those powers. Only because she uses them to bring wonder to people WHICH IS BASICALLY WHAT THE VILLAINS USED THEM FOR BEFORE THEY WENT OFF THE DEEP END. Irony is so delicious. It was really gross having to read about needing to kiss and breathe in other peoples' nasty-ass breaths to transfer magic. What if their breath tastes bad?! All she did all book was kiss fucking Zachary, who was the only person who's breath wasn't gross because Eve WANTED to give him her powers, and he's the love interest and is ""perfect"", therefore his breath smelled sweet like flowers or something. Maybe you should check up on ya boy and see if he's addicted to eating flowers or something because yo, flower breath is unnatural. Maybe a doctor's visit would be beneficial? The POV changes were strange. It would switch from third to first person and back randomly; not only in the visions where it makes sense. It kinda hurt my head because I kept wondering if "I" and "Eve" were two different people. Anyways, short version: I wouldn't recommend this book as a thriller. It's more a slightly dark PNR, imo. The main character is a rutabaga, secondary characters are bland, the love interest is a douche, the villains are flat. All the selling points of this book are pushed to the side to shoehorn a dickwad of a LI into the book way more than he has to be. So 2 stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    ambyr

    So I got twenty-some pages into this a year and a half ago and stalled out. I think it's probably time to admit I am never going to get over the way the romantic lead introduces himself to the protagonist, his brand new coworker, the day she arrives at their place of employment:"I'm Zach, library page, at your service." After a second's hesitation, she shook his hand. It was warm and soft. "I think it's a shame that it's customary to shake hands upon greeting when what I really want to do is kis So I got twenty-some pages into this a year and a half ago and stalled out. I think it's probably time to admit I am never going to get over the way the romantic lead introduces himself to the protagonist, his brand new coworker, the day she arrives at their place of employment:"I'm Zach, library page, at your service." After a second's hesitation, she shook his hand. It was warm and soft. "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." She released his hand. "I'm Eve. I've never eaten a strawberry." "Allergies? I'm allergic to cats. Not cats themselves, per se. Hairless cats are fine. It's the cat dandruff, caught in the fur. Need serious anti-cat-dandruff shampoo." His hair had slid over his eyes as he talked; he shook it back and smiled at her. "Glad you didn't freak out when I said I want to kiss you. I'll wait for an invitation, of course, but I believe in being up front about these kinds of things. Prevents misunderstandings later. I don't want you thinking that we can ever be just friends. Unless it's friends with benefits."Sorry, but I prefer my meet-cutes not be served with a side of workplace harassment.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Elizabeth

    (Source: I own a copy of this book.) This was an okay story, but it was weird and slow. Eve was a bit of an odd character because she remembered so little. Not even remembering what you look like, or what a library is, or whether you have ever eaten a strawberry is a bit strange. I did feel sorry for her at points, and it did seem frustrating for her that she couldn’t remember anything, but still, she was a bit strange. Nick was also strange. He had a severely bad case of verbal diarrhoea, and a ve (Source: I own a copy of this book.) This was an okay story, but it was weird and slow. Eve was a bit of an odd character because she remembered so little. Not even remembering what you look like, or what a library is, or whether you have ever eaten a strawberry is a bit strange. I did feel sorry for her at points, and it did seem frustrating for her that she couldn’t remember anything, but still, she was a bit strange. Nick was also strange. He had a severely bad case of verbal diarrhoea, and a very active imagination, and he was a bit annoying. The storyline in this was quite confusing. We as the reader had about as much information as Eve did, which is basically nothing, and we had to take a lot of stuff on faith. I found this lack of information and the slow pace quite frustrating, I wanted to know what was going on, what Eve couldn’t remember, and why all of this was so important, but I felt like the answers didn’t come quickly enough, and I got so annoyed at this! There was some romance, but it didn’t really hook me. This may have been because I just wanted Nick to shut up though. The end was okay, and I was pleased that Eve got a happy end. I just wish that things could have been a bit clearer as we went along, and that the pace was so slow! Overall; okay, but confusing and slow, 6.25 out of 10.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Schwartzberg

    I read this as an eARC from NetGalley. The concept of the US Marshal's Service's Witness Program having a Paranormal Witness Protection branch for endangered witnesses from other worlds that have magic is at the base of this story of a girl who has lost her memory and is in this program. As she struggles to regain her memory and adjust to this world, there's a slow creeping horror that mixes in with first love, friendship, fear, and lies upon lies. Everyone but one wants to use her and she wants I read this as an eARC from NetGalley. The concept of the US Marshal's Service's Witness Program having a Paranormal Witness Protection branch for endangered witnesses from other worlds that have magic is at the base of this story of a girl who has lost her memory and is in this program. As she struggles to regain her memory and adjust to this world, there's a slow creeping horror that mixes in with first love, friendship, fear, and lies upon lies. Everyone but one wants to use her and she wants to be free... I gobbled this story down and it echoes in my mind and will for a long time. Very highly recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Abbie

    Actual rating - 2.5 Conjured felt about 600 pages long! I felt sorry for Eve, because most of the time she had no clue what was going on.. but because of her being confused all the time, i couldn't warm to her enough to like her. The pacing in this was just way too slow for me. It took ages to get answers, and because of that, i was just as confused as Eve was! It felt like i had read for hours when i was about a quarter of the way in, so when i got to the the end, it was a huge relief. Overall, Actual rating - 2.5 Conjured felt about 600 pages long! I felt sorry for Eve, because most of the time she had no clue what was going on.. but because of her being confused all the time, i couldn't warm to her enough to like her. The pacing in this was just way too slow for me. It took ages to get answers, and because of that, i was just as confused as Eve was! It felt like i had read for hours when i was about a quarter of the way in, so when i got to the the end, it was a huge relief. Overall, slow, dull, confusing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Yolanda Sfetsos

    I received this book from Bloomsbury Australia last week and didn't know anything about it. After reading the blurb, I was intrigued. Not to mention that the cover is super freaky. The heart with all those pins reminds me of Pinhead from Hellraiser. Or a pin cushion. Even a voodoo doll. After reading the book, the image makes a lot of sense. Eve has a hard time remembering things. Her mind is empty and she has no memory of her past. She also doesn't recognise herself in the mirror. Everything ar I received this book from Bloomsbury Australia last week and didn't know anything about it. After reading the blurb, I was intrigued. Not to mention that the cover is super freaky. The heart with all those pins reminds me of Pinhead from Hellraiser. Or a pin cushion. Even a voodoo doll. After reading the book, the image makes a lot of sense. Eve has a hard time remembering things. Her mind is empty and she has no memory of her past. She also doesn't recognise herself in the mirror. Everything around her is foreign and new, just like her reflection. So when she moves into a strange house with one of the Para-WitSec agents, she doesn't know what to expect. Aunt Nicki doesn't sugarcoat things and barely seems to tolerate her, but Malcolm is the understanding agent who seems to care enough about her to explain things. Even if he has to do it a thousand times because she keeps forgetting. Eve also loses time. She has magic inside her, and every time she uses it, she passes out. She relives pieces of her fragmented memories, but when she wakes up, she forgets about her waking life. As hard as it is to pass out and lose hours, days, and sometimes weeks, Eve gets on with her controlled life by taking a summer job at the local library. The library director might not like her, but Eve loves being around books, and when she meets Zach--the friendly boy who doesn't lie, talks too much, and isn't afraid to say what he really wants--she looks forward to going to work. After sharing her magic with him during their first kiss, she knows they've got an unbreakable connection. But the agency keeps tabs on her no matter where she is, and Aidan, Victoria, and Topher might be like her in the magical sense, but they're dangerous and have an agenda of their own. Everyone wants her to remember. It's important, because there's a killer out there who has killed many kids from other worlds, and wants to find her. Plus he's killing again. The only person who can lead the authorities to him is Eve, but she can't be trusted to remember anything. It's not until Eve decides to take control of her own life and her own visions, that she stumbles into the multiverse truth, and finally remembers just who and what she really is. But at what price? This book was... amazing. I have to admit that I love characters with amnesia problems. So it wasn't hard to get into this book. Eve's fractured mind makes her vulnerable, so it would be easy to get as impatient with her as the characters do, but I didn't. Not at all. Actually, my impatience and frustration was with the others. I hated how everyone seemed to be keeping secrets from her and wouldn't share any light on anything. As important as they thought it was for Eve to remember things on her own, I felt they could've shared some vital facts along the way. In the end, I loved her journey. Conjured is an intriguing, imaginative, and super creepy book with a conclusion that will leave you breathless. I loved how everything unfolded. I loved Eve and Zach's connection. I enjoyed the touch of magic to this story. I even loved when everything tipped over from a familiar world and into a very dark, alien place featuring a nightmarish carnival setting. I seriously loved this book! Yeah, this story featured a lot of my favourite creepy things. It's also a great book to read during the spooky month of October!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Beck Kalnasy

    Review originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please. Sometimes, a book can surprise you. I was surprised by Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst because I actually finished reading it. The book wasn't bad, but I went into it blind (I didn't read the synopsis), and Conjured really wasn't the right book for that. The main character, Eve, had no memories or any idea of what was going on. Therefore, I had no idea what was going on until maybe the last sixty pages. However, I liked Eve enough to make Review originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please. Sometimes, a book can surprise you. I was surprised by Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst because I actually finished reading it. The book wasn't bad, but I went into it blind (I didn't read the synopsis), and Conjured really wasn't the right book for that. The main character, Eve, had no memories or any idea of what was going on. Therefore, I had no idea what was going on until maybe the last sixty pages. However, I liked Eve enough to make the journey with her. For the most part, the characters in Conjured didn't work for me. Despite Eve having no memories and almost no sense of self, she was not willing to take things at face value or trust easily. It was a bit annoying that she fell in love quickly (and it got too deep too fast), but it was very two-sided. Zach worked with Eve at the library, and he just came across as the typical horny teenage boy. He was funny and talked too much, so he was slightly endearing. Her caregivers were Malcolm and "Aunt" Nicki, and they were fairly bland - neither loving or nefarious. Malcolm did seem sincere, if nothing else. Aiden, Topher, and Victoria were three other special teens that Eve was thrown in with, and they were boring, too. None of the characters were fully developed, and the development that did occur was sloppy at best. The world-building in Conjured was a problem for me, too. I did not understand where Eve was from or why she was in WitSec (the witness protection agency) for the longest time. I did not get the whole carnival thing, and that didn't even begin to make sense until the end. The occasional portions of the book that were in italics made matters even more confusing because they seemed like memories or dreams, but it was hard to tell. There were multiple worlds in the book, but the traveling between them was rather vague, and none of those worlds were really described. For that matter, I don't understand WitSec or which worlds run it. How do they all work together? While trying to figure out Eve, it would have been a lot easier to read Conjured if I wasn't trying to figure out everything else as well. We are given a huge info-dump at the end of the book, and the story wrapping up that way was disappointing. While I appreciate what Durst was trying to with Conjured - only giving us as much as the unreliable narrator knows - it was frustrating. There was so much potential in the world-building and characters in the novel that I think the book would have been more effective and enjoyable as a series. Since I don't get to choose such things, I can only judge it by what it is, and it didn't work for me. To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jen Ryland

    I was SO excited by the concept of a magic-wielding serial killer, but I was disappointed that serial killer was not actually a big part of this book. I must have glossed over the part of the blurb that mentions that Conjured is also an amnesia story. Eve, the main character, is in witness protection but doesn't remember why. But instead of regaining her memory, she keeps passing out and losing it. She's constantly being told she's in danger, but I never felt that. Characters with amnesia can be t I was SO excited by the concept of a magic-wielding serial killer, but I was disappointed that serial killer was not actually a big part of this book. I must have glossed over the part of the blurb that mentions that Conjured is also an amnesia story. Eve, the main character, is in witness protection but doesn't remember why. But instead of regaining her memory, she keeps passing out and losing it. She's constantly being told she's in danger, but I never felt that. Characters with amnesia can be tricky in my experience as a reader -- a person who is trying to remember her own personality can easily come off as flat. This was definitely the case with Eve. While I felt for her, her blankness made it hard to connect with her. The other characters are… well, they may have had too much personality. Zach, the love interest, just blurts out whatever is in his head. He meets Eve and tells her he wants to kiss her and see if her lips taste like strawberries. Okaaaay …. That said, he wasn't the stereotypical smoldering book boy, and he did grow on me. Many of the other characters (such as Eve's handlers) have similarly offbeat senses of humor. Their wackiness set against Eve's blankness did give the book a "Who's on First" vibe that was funny at times, but this did not mollify me -- I still wanted scary serial killer action. Eve's story, told in third person, is periodically interrupted by a first person account of a girl who's part of some creepy magic show. Those segments added a touch of intrigue but were also pretty cryptic. I was 80% through the book before I felt any real sense of suspense or creepiness start to build. I thought that the last quarter of the book was really very good -- finally I understood who Eve was, what her relationship with the Magician was, etc. I was impressed by some of the creeptastic detail and really wished more of that had been incorporated earlier in the story. (view spoiler)[ I mean, whoa!!! Eve's a doll come to life, imbued with the magic of the serial killer victims? And the serial killer traps people in boxes, either before or after he cuts them up? THAT'S the book I was expecting to read. (I could have done without the trio of teens with superpowers, all of whom seemed to be planted in the story just so they could conveniently join forces in the final scene.) But more of the creepy girl-doll with Stockholm syndrome, please!!!! (hide spoiler)] Readers who love WTF-is-going-on-here books like As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott or Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn will really enjoy this. And, I swear, if you persevere until the end, you will be rewarded. I've heard good things about this author, and was impressed enough with her writing and her offbeat imagination that I'd love to try another of her books and see if I can find one that suits me better.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    First, let me say that this book was so, so beautifully written. The prose was never overly flowery (although, admittedly I do tend to like very flowery prose), but it wasn't sparse like a Hemingway novel either. It was just...perfect. There are all these descriptions..of people with diamonds in their dreads, or women with antlers growing out of their heads...and I could see them. I'm a pretty imaginative person, so I usually see when I read, if that makes sense (I've heard that it doesn't work First, let me say that this book was so, so beautifully written. The prose was never overly flowery (although, admittedly I do tend to like very flowery prose), but it wasn't sparse like a Hemingway novel either. It was just...perfect. There are all these descriptions..of people with diamonds in their dreads, or women with antlers growing out of their heads...and I could see them. I'm a pretty imaginative person, so I usually see when I read, if that makes sense (I've heard that it doesn't work that way for everyone, but I know some of you will know what I mean). Usually it's just sort of a vague sense of things, but everything I saw in this book was so...vivid. And it's not even that Durst spent hours describing the way things looked - she really didn't. Honestly, it was just perfectly done. And this story was so dark, so beautiful and fantastical - everything I would want from a carnival story. There is so little I can write about this novel without giving away anything! And you really need to know nothing more than what is written in the summary, or it spoils things. I want to reread the book when I have time so I can read through it knowing everything that happens - so much makes sense when you know the ending! But, of course I should stop teasing you, since I know the ending and you don't. Just know that I never would have guessed it, not even a bit, but it's not one of those solutions that seems contrived, like you couldn't have known because you weren't given the information. Would I recommend this? Absolutely. But if you are looking for heavy romance or a fast-paced plot, this isn't the book for you. It's got great mystery, great suspense, twists you'll never see coming, and such beautiful writing you'll imagine you're in an entirely different world! For more on what I did/didn't like about Conjured, head to my blog.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (Diva Booknerd)

    http://www.divabooknerd.com/2014/10/c... Conjured was a blend of mystery and fantasy, with contemporary elements and eerie flashbacks. I enjoyed the darker side of Conjured, but overall I struggled to really immerse myself within the storyline. Eve is as whimsical as she is magical, and although readers may struggle to connect to her character, her thoughts are among the loveliest, not to mention eerie, that I've had the pleasure of reading. It's the memory flashbacks that Eve experiences that lu http://www.divabooknerd.com/2014/10/c... Conjured was a blend of mystery and fantasy, with contemporary elements and eerie flashbacks. I enjoyed the darker side of Conjured, but overall I struggled to really immerse myself within the storyline. Eve is as whimsical as she is magical, and although readers may struggle to connect to her character, her thoughts are among the loveliest, not to mention eerie, that I've had the pleasure of reading. It's the memory flashbacks that Eve experiences that lured me into the storyline. A dark and magical carnival, where she recalls thoughts of a children's Storyteller that cared for her seemingly like a mother figure. There is a killer targeting children and teens that puts Eve in the line of danger. But when a group of magic infused teens try to recruit her to their cause, and that's where I begun to lose interest. I needed more creepy carnival and less teen romance. The introduction of Victoria, Aidan and Topher who are involved within the Agency, seemed awkward and unnecessary. Perhaps to create conflict or an alternative love interest I'm assuming. What I absolutely adored was the flashbacks. Eve struggles to maintain memories and can't remember where she originated. The figments she begins to remember are incredibly poetic, I absolutely adored the deliciously dark carnival setting, but sadly the glimpses we see throughout the storyline were too few and far between. Overall, I felt as though the synopsis promised a delicious and dark suspense, but sadly delivered more of a contemporary teen romance with fantasy elements. Lovers of magic realism will enjoy this one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melodie

    Conjured is The Night Circus meets Pinocchio, with a lot more nightmares. Since the MC, Eve, starts off as an empty-headed amnesiac, it was slow going at first. (There's not a lot of relatability to a girl who doesn't seem quite human and has no memories or emotions.) But Durst's rich world - and amazing imagination - grew on me. I spent most of the book torn between sick fascination and intrigue as the extreme "otherness" of Eve's real world is revealed. The problem was, it was revealed so slow Conjured is The Night Circus meets Pinocchio, with a lot more nightmares. Since the MC, Eve, starts off as an empty-headed amnesiac, it was slow going at first. (There's not a lot of relatability to a girl who doesn't seem quite human and has no memories or emotions.) But Durst's rich world - and amazing imagination - grew on me. I spent most of the book torn between sick fascination and intrigue as the extreme "otherness" of Eve's real world is revealed. The problem was, it was revealed so slowly, I kept wondering when the serial killer was going to show up. That happens about 3/4 of the way thru...which was a bit late for me. Durst mentions in the afterword that this story wouldn't exist without her nightmares. And it's clear where that influence comes in. Between scenes of acrobatics dismembering and then juggling their own body parts, to a macabre Storyteller whose tales always end in death and despair, Conjured is not a book for those who like sunny, open-hearted stories. The power of this book lies in its darkness. For that reason, I had to put it down several times because I read to escape from the real world...not to be immersed in one where natural laws are replaced with magical, hybrid succubi. Still, there's a lot to admire in Durst's writing and in fact, she does reward those of us addicted to optimism at the end.

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