Sunday, September 8, 2013

Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

Title: Conjured
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 3rd 2013
Source: Netgalley/Bloomsbury USA Children's Books


Three and a half stars, rounded up.

Eve doesn't remember anything. Where she came from, what her name is.... Or what she saw that has marked her as a target for a paranormal serial killer on the lose and has her enrolled in the witness protection program. But she's special, and they know it. She questions little about what her agents Nicki and Malcolm tell her... That is, Until things don't start adding up. When a friend mentions painful truths and her memories start adding up, she'll have to decide once and for all who she can trust, whose side she's on, and who she truly is before it's too late. The time for her destruction is counting down.


This book took me by surprise, to say the least. It has far more paranormal/fantasy aspects than I had anticipated, and I enjoyed it. This book is also strange, to put it mildly. It was a weird, enticing form of bizarre that kept me turning the pages.

This book is told through third person perspective, until Eve shifts into one of her memory "visions" from before she was in the program, where it turns to first person. I have to say that normally changes like that are confusing for me, but Durst wrote them well enough so that I was able to follow the flow of the story and Eve's thought process.

The detail in this book is amazing. I was able to conjure (buh dun tsss) up images of the worlds described with ease, and found myself wanting to know far more about them than the plot gave me. I also felt that the characters were well described, but I felt like information about them was missing. I wanted to know more of their history and their allegiances. Like Eve, I felt like I was being kept in the dark with certain explanations. My favorite character was probably Zach, who is shamelessly honest, loyal to a fault, and who never really stops talking and spouting useless facts about trivial things.

I felt this plot was definitely unique. I kind of suspected what was going to happen based off of clues given by the author throughout the story, but I didn't expect the explosive climax that I was given. Almost all of my questions were answered by the time the book came to a close. It did feel a bit blurred and rushed in parts near the end, but I didn't feel like it really impacted the plot too much.

The entire book has this confused, dark tone to it, I assume to match Eve's confusion with finding out who she is. It seems like no one can be trusted, and that bad things are always eminent. This tone, mixed with the notion of "living dolls" gave this book a mega creepy feel, not unlike the book Coraline. I enjoyed it, in an eerily discomforted kind of way.

This book is one that will stand apart to me based on its concept and spooky writing. Fans of YA paranormal/fantasy books with a hint of romance and a dark tone to it should pick this book up, for sure. If changing perspective or flashbacks bother you, this might not be up your alley. If Sarah Beth Durst ever decides to write a novella telling more about these new worlds or the ill fated carnival, or writes another story regarding these characters, I would definitely read it.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for my copy.


  1. This sounds like a creepy awesome book that's right up my alley. Living dolls and creepy carnivals? Count me in!

    1. The carnival very much reminded me of the Porcelain Doll and The Devil's Carnival.

  2. I absolutely ADORED this book! The writing is just...perfect. The whole atmosphere is really...fantastical and mysterious and ahhhhhh. I want to reread it knowing the ending first and see if that changes the experience at all. Also because I have a horrible habit of rereading things over and over haha. Of course then I'd also have to go get the book, so there's that too.

    Question about Netgalley I've been wondering for future reference - do you know if you have to finish the review before the archive date so you can submit it to them through Netgalley?

    1. xD I do that too. I'll probably reread it for the same reasoning. I really hope there's at least a skosh more writing from the author set in this idea of multiverses/different worlds and the creepy carnival!

      And to answer your question, that used to be the case, but not anymore. If you go to a book past the archive date, you can still submit feedback, but you can no longer download the title. So as long as you downloaded the content straight away, it should be fine.

  3. I had a slightly different experience with Conjured; I didn't like it much. Malcolm was the only character I even slightly liked. The others were way too snarky. (I like snark, but not when it's a character's only method of communication.)

    The crazy ending was the only saving grace for me, even though I have to admit that when I visualized Eve, I felt a strange mix of horror and the need to giggle.

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    1. I can totally see why people didn't like it. Nicki and Aiden for instance bothered me to no end. Nicki was far too sassy and cold for no reason- like why was she so annoyed at doing her job? That's what she's paid to do after all.

      And the ending made me giggle a bit too, I admit. It was so odd.

  4. I had mixed feelings about Conjured. I was promised a time traveling serial killer who didn't turn up for a very long time. At first I thought Zach had some serious issues but he grew on me. And Nicki annoyed me to no end. I did like Malcolm a lot. And the ending was great. It just took a LOT of patience to get there.

    1. My feelings were mixed as well. At times I thought it was going to be a DNF and I loved parts. I agree with you, Nicki is awful. The ending was DEFINITELY the saving grace of this book!