Elijah is a troubled young lad. There is something spooking him at home but his vagueness only leads the reader to speculate for themselves.
Something has happened to him to cause a trip to the police station but other than a hint, we are none the wiser at this stage as to why.
He seems like a loner, however, whose parents like to keep a close eye on him. He lives on an estate that is surrounded by woods known to Elijah as the Memory Wood, and he loves to go off exploring. He has found a house identical in every way to his own, except that it is completely derelict with the promise of its very own indoor tree feature coming soon. This house holds secrets and it scares him, but he keeps returning hoping to see Gretel, whoever that may be.
Elissa Mirzoyan is a 12-year-old chess protégé hoping to make a name for herself on the British circuit. She is confident in her abilities and hopes to do well. Outside of this environment though, she struggles to make decisions, panicking if there are too many choices. She also fails to understand other people and gets flustered when in their presence, unless of course, it is across a chessboard.
During a chess match in Bournemouth, the unthinkable happens. As she had a break in play, Elissa decides to get some fresh air, taking her uneaten lunch back to the car, when she is abducted.
Was this a planned attack or a completely random crime of opportunity? Is Elissa the child that Elijah refers to as Gretel? Is this is the work of a serial kidnapper?
“All the victims were dragged into a decrepit-looking white van. All came from single-parent families. In each of the six cases, videos of the victims were posted to YouTube shortly afterwards.” (Page 105-106)
Shortly after Elissa’s disappearance, a report goes into Bournemouth Central police station and Detective Superintendent Mairead MacCullagh is called to investigate further.
“Possible child abduction, East Cliff. Eyewitness saw a girl bundled into a van”. (Page 51)
Elissa awakens afraid and in darkness. It takes a moment for her to realise where she is and what has happened to her. Through her sobbing, she remembers her mother taught her always to be strong, and if by any chance she is going to get out of this situation she needs to remain strong.
With renewed strength, she scouts out her surroundings hoping to find something, a clue perhaps to where she is and how to escape this nightmare. It is then that she meets Elijah.
Through their conversations in the darkness, she begins to realise that perhaps she is not alone. That there is another youngster here potentially suffering as well and is trying to help her, if not escape, at least remain strong. He also warns her though. Whatever her captor wants she needs to obey, if she doesn’t she won’t survive. It seems she may not have been the first person to have been locked away in the cellar of this derelict house.
Will Elissa get out alive? What will happen to Elijah? Is he just another youngster who has been taken or does he have a bigger part to play in the abductions?
My Thoughts on The Memory Wood
The Memory Wood is a captivating novel that I simply couldn’t put down. When reading this I frequently compared Sam Lloyd’s writing style to that of the brilliant British novelist, John Fowles and often reflected that this book would, in years to come, be held in the same regard as The Collector, one of my all-time favourite novels.
As the narrative unfolds you begin to feel like something is amiss but you are not quite sure what. There is an uneasiness brewing but it is difficult to place. I felt compelled to read on at pace to try and find out whether Elijah really was who he implied he was, finding it impossible to put down.
Same Lloyd has written a very clever psychological thriller that is so dark you have to wonder how someone would even begin to create such an intense page-turner. It is a novel, unlike anything I have read before and wows with its remarkably creepy twists.
For anyone who likes this genre, The Memory Wood is a truly unique, albeit, chilling thriller with a harrowing story-line.
Have you read The Memory Wood or any other sinister psychological thrillers you wish to recommend to others?
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