In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.
Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.
To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorised map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighbouring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.
Etta Lark is on a mission! Having just been given the notice that her mother, who has been in a Coma for the last 4 years, is to have her memories sold at auction. Desperate to save her mother she returns to the Shadows, a group of criminals she used to belong to, hoping that they will help her. Bray the leader of the Shadows has little love for Etta and agrees to help her mother on one condition. She break into the neighbouring kingdom of Aravid, ruled by the ever feared Porter and steal the memory of his infamous prison ‘The Maze’. Knowing this is likely a death sentence, but also the only way to save her mother Etta agrees and with Reid, the Shadow Bray forces her to travel with, sets off on a journey with consequences no one could foresee.
Etta was an interesting perspective to read from. Hiding her gift, she lives in the shadows and only comes out when her mothers life is at risk. It was interesting seeing her past decisions coming back to haunt her, and seeing how she dealt with the repercussions made for an interesting read. Quite strong and set in her ways. She is not easily bended and it’s only the fear of loosing her mother that enables her to be swayed. There were times where I felt her character drifted more towards MG than YA, and at parts she seemed to break from character. However, I enjoyed delving into the book from her perspective and she proved to be a engaging character.
I will say I expected something slightly different when starting this book. That’s not to say I was disappointed with where the story went. The Memory Thief is a kind of dive right in story, which is perfect for those looking for action from the get-go. Normally I find I enjoy plots with a little more backstory around the cultures and characters. However, I would make an exception for this book. Without too much descriptive writing Mansy manages to create a world that is easily understood, and gives you characters whose motives you understand completely.
The magic system in this book was completely fresh and something I enjoyed reading about. People in this world are either gifted or un-gifted. The Gifted have the ability to transfer memory from one person to another via touch. Sifters are the elite of the gifted having the ability to transfer memory through sight alone. They are able to in plant memories in a matter of seconds, without the person even realising it was happening. People are able to learn skills from others memories such as fighting and dancing. Sometimes these are stolen, and other times bought at auction when they sell off the memories of criminals. I had never read a magic system like this before and found the premise wholly intriguing.
There were plenty of twists and turns in this book, in fact I might say too many. There were times I found myself a little lost in the story line and had to re-read passages to make sure I understood what was happening. I think in a way, this book may have made a better duology. One to give the reader the chance to delve into the world a little more, and the other to complete the plot. Because in parts it seemed slightly rushed,I didn’t find myself bonding with the characters, there was romance, reunions and the like and I simply found that through most of it I didn’t care enough to feel an emotion along side the character. The romance arc also seemed slightly rushed to me, and because of this seemed less believable.
This was a 3.5/5 for me. I enjoyed the plot in general, and I think people who prefer get-go kinds of read with little descriptions will definitely enjoy this one. As well as those looking to delve into a new world with a fresh magic system. However, I just felt it was rushed in parts and couldn’t emotionally bond with the characters.