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Review: Memory Closet (By Ninie Hammon)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 337 pages

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Anne Mitchell has no memories of the first 11 years of her life. They vanished into a darkness that was filled with evil, inhabited by her own, personal Boogie Man who watched from the shadows. The fear of facing the Boogie Man kept her from making any attempt to remember. Until she saw the evil hiding behind the repentance in her dying mother’s eyes. Until the Boogie Man made an appearance that put Anne’s career and the little life she had made for herself at risk.

So, Anne moved back to the town of Goshen, back to live with her senile grandmother in the home where she grew up. It was the best place for her to try and remember, to face the memories that had, so far, eluded her. She’d been bullied all her life by the Boogie Man. The only way to get rid of him is to pull him into the light. But, for that, she has to go into the closet first, into the darkness. And as the lines between reality, memory, and imagination begin to blur, Anne realizes that she may never find her way out of the closet – that the Boogie Man has been waiting for her, and after all these years, he may finally win.

My take:

The premise of this story is surely interesting – amnesia triggered by a traumatic event and that plainly protects the protagonist from worse memories. It’s a psychological thriller with immense potential. There are also some characters that you can really associate with, feel bad or good for, and find them to be well-rounded.

But the book falls short on too many aspects to really make for a good read as the psychological thriller it’s supposed to be.

First is the fact that it really just goes on and on. I mean, the book could have been 100 pages less and still gotten the message across just as clearly. Each emotion is experienced to death until you’re just wondering when the scene is going to change, and still have to read about how sad or scared someone is for another four pages.

Then there’s Anne Mitchell herself. The character, meant to be raw, scared yet strong, kind, loving, and just a little confused, comes across as someone who is little more than annoying and a big cry-baby. She spends most of the book being exhausted for one reason or another, and avoiding good ideas that could help her… just because.

Now, I get that she’s meant to be emotional and maybe even a partial wreck, given the horrific things happening. But the resolve with which she’s introduced disappears within pages, and the other, more vulnerable emotions that she does go through just go on and on. That was where shortening the length could have been very effective. All in all, she was a character who was just about there, but forgot who she was a little too often.

Then there’s the excessive graphic nature of some narrative. It makes sense that Hammon was trying to be descriptive; but when it comes to these kinds of books, there is “show, don’t tell”, and then there is “just too gross to read”. At some point, the descriptions go from being necessary-psychological-thriller-disturbing to just plain “not-adding-any-value… move on”.

Another really annoying thing about it was the really long sentences that hit you with so much information that you just had to go back and read them again. Toss in some weird similes in the narrative (that were barely required, in the first place), and at some point, you’re just reading random words until the next sensible part.

Last, the book was, oddly enough, predictable – which is a major disappointment for a thriller. After 337 pages of excessive emotion, unnecessary description, and a lot of droning on, you’d think there was something better coming up in the climax. Instead, you get something predictable, anticlimactic, and extremely abrupt – it was like after all that writing, Hammon got tired and wrapped up the book really fast, without bothering too much on giving the audience an after-event look at the characters.

I had definitely expected much more from Memory Closet, and doubt I’d read more of Ninie Hammon’s work. The only reason it gets a 2-star rating and nothing lower is because the execution could have been worse (there were points where it, thankfully, took a turn off the bad path and back onto the good), but manages to be alright. Also, as a story idea, it wasn’t too bad.

Recommended for:

  • Hardcore psychological thriller fans who could read any story in that genre
  • Thriller fans (if you have nothing else to opt for)
  • Readers who like the very specific category of amnesia related thrillers

– Rishika

Review: Hush (By Anne Frasier)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 380 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Ivy Dunlap had been waiting for the call for sixteen years – the call that would tell her that he’s resurfaced. She had no doubt that he would. The man who had murdered her son and left her for dead wouldn’t stay in the dark forever – he was compelled to kill. As a criminal psychologist, Ivy knew that.

And when the call did come, Ivy knew that she had no choice. She couldn’t continue living the life that was a lie, the life where she was safe, but where no one knew who she really was. So, she went back to help the Chicago PD apprehend the man who had been murdering single mothers and their infant sons. But going back was not going to be easy. Keeping her real identity a secret was not going to be easy. Chasing the man who’d haunted her waking and sleeping hours for sixteen years may come at a price that even Ivy could never have anticipated. And all the while, a single question remains – will the Madonna Murderer succeed where he’d once failed?

My take:

There are a lot of things you expect from a psychological/crime thriller. And for the most part, Hush delivers. It’s got a good story that shows you the evil that can exist within people. It’s blunt, sometimes gory, the right amount of mess-with-your-head disturbing, and its criminal psychology seems to be pretty spot on (speaking from the perspective of someone whose criminal psychology course was basically watching Criminal Minds). It’s even got some interesting characters who seem to do justice (for the most part) to what you would expect, given their backgrounds.

But the execution of all those aspects is what kills a lot of the experience.

And the grammar and formatting errors. I mean, it can’t be that difficult to ensure that if you’re moving from one scene to another altogether, at least hit Enter twice. When you’re reading a fast paced thriller, those things can really throw you off, hitting the breaks on an otherwise good momentum.

Coming back…

The characters are as good a place as any to begin. The characters are good, but their growth is terrible. The main characters seem to have some bipolarity going on at the weirdest of times. They go from being angry and closed off to super emotional in seconds, and that too for no real reason. They have these over-dramatic reactions to random things, and mainly just seem a little confused about who they are. I get the intense aspect – cops, trauma survivors, and people dealing with crime day in and day out will be so – but there is no consistency in their personalities or evolution of personalities. And that really slows the book down.

Coming to the story – the delivery is choppy. A lot of things are happening which come together eventually, but they are presented in a way that leaves you confused about the timeline. You think days have passed and it’s been only hours, or vice versa. That makes it a little hard to follow and you have to take a lot of things as just given and move on.

The last aspect that wasn’t tapped to its full potential was the depth of the evil that the book touches upon. It does decently on showing you the darkness that people can have. But it seems to only scratch the surface and leave a lot implied. I wouldn’t have minded reading more thoughts, monologs, or even narration, if it would have helped paint a complete picture, instead of just bits and pieces here and there.

All that being said, the book does great on closure. It brings almost all tangents to a comfortable close, and gives you a nice, complete feel – at least on the story. And that’s why I wouldn’t greatly mind reading more of the author’s work. As long as there isn’t too much of the off-putting stuff, of course!

Recommended for:

  • 16+ (or maybe even 17+) because of the gore and disturbing details
  • Fans of psychological thrillers as a thrill (or holiday or easy) read
  • Readers who enjoy crime fiction and crime thrillers
  • Readers who tend to enjoy the commercial (TV/Book) versions of criminal psychology

Share your thoughts in the comments below! I’d also love a recommendation of a really good psychological thriller.

– Rishika