This is a book for readers who like to be scared! An unforgettable chilling psychological thriller, nightmarish as it ghoulishly unfolds.
And “The Ghoul” is the name 13 year old Elissa gives the shadowy man who steals her away from her mother at a Junior Chess Tournament (Elissa is a chess prodigy, which stands her in good stead as her terror begins). The Ghoul imprisons her, in shackles, in an old, abandoned cellar, where she is discovered by Elijah, a strange, simple 12 year old boy.
At first Elissa is overjoyed, thinking Elijah will tell the police and rescue her. But Elijah is pitifully lonely. He wants to keep Elissa as a friend, kept secret in his Memory Wood, a creepy, literally haunted forest in which Elijah has lived all his life.
Psychologically this novel is enormously tense and dark. Who is Elijah? Who are “mama and papa”? Who is Elijah’s brutal brother, Kyle? And will spirited, clever Elissa manage to escape from this monstrous wood.
In his debut thriller, Sam Lloyd has drawn on all our worst childhood terrors, on the deep well of Grimm’s Fairytales, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Red Riding Hood’s Big Bad Wolf. All those old half-remembered childish nightmares are here in The Memory Wood.
Elissa is manacled in what Elijah calls the “gingerbread house”, and the reader can almost feel the terrifying reality, the damp, cold evil that mocks the fairytale description. Elissa herself is a fabulous character, brave, defiant and resourceful. She shines like a torch, illuminating her pitch dark prison with intelligence and courage.
The reader’s assumptions about her captor are constantly turned upside down, and shocking details eventually reveal the heartbreakingly massive childhood trauma which has led to Elijah’s strange half-life.
The Memory Wood is a disturbingly chilling story. But it’s a terrific read! Sweet Dreams!