Review: Memory's Wake

I had been a fan of Selina Fenech's fantasy artwork for many years before I learned that she is also an author. After I discovered one of her books in a fairy tale anthology, I started reading the first book in the Memory's Wake Trilogy and was instantly hooked. This series contains all the things I love about princess stories--a magical fairy tale kingdom, romance, a strong cast of characters, a dash of real-world perspective, and gorgeous illustrations from the talented author/artist. I haven't been this excited about a book series in a long time. I am halfway through the second book, Hope's Reign, and can't wait to find out what will happen next.

Main Cast of Memory's Wake by Selina Fenech

Memory's Wake has two distinct protagonists, who are both appealing in different ways. Eloryn is the traditional fairy tale princess with flowing golden locks who is kind to everyone she meets and maintains a positive outlook in spite of the danger that has been following her since birth. Memory is a jaded girl from the real world with a more grounded outlook on life who fits perfectly into the "lost princess" trope. Together, the girls fit the archetype of Saban's cartoon princesses from the '90s in which the gentle light-haired princesses always have a cynical dark-haired foil. In this case, however, Eloryn and Memory are not rivals. They trust and support each other intrinsically despite their differences just like so many pairs of princess sisters do in animation. Eloryn and Memory compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses in the same way as Anna and Elsa from Frozen or Elphaba and Glinda from Wicked.

The story begins when Eloryn finds a girl trapped in the mystical veil that acts as a gateway between worlds and pulls her out. The mystery girl panics when she realizes that she has no memories of herself or her past, so Eloryn gives her the nickname "Memory." Though Memory does not know who she is, she knows about many things that someone from the fairy tale world shouldn't such as smartphones and larping, so it is clear that she grew up in the real world. After they travel together for a while, Memory learns that Eloryn is a princess who was raised in secret by a kind wizard in the hopes of overthrowing the wicked king who killed her mother. Memory is clever and sneaky, so over time, she manages to learn more information about Eloryn's situation than Eloryn herself and is faced with the decision of whether to be honest with her new friends or choose a darker path.

Memory's Wake by Selina Fenech

Though this trilogy contains two love interests, it often feels like a love triangle between Eloryn, Memory, and Roen. Roen is a devilish rogue who takes it upon himself to help the girls when he realizes that Eloryn is the lost heir to the throne. Despite his duty to Eloryn, he has more in common with Memory since both are blunt cynics who aren't afraid to speak their minds even if it goes against social norms. He gets into more than a few risqué situations with Memory that he never fails to use as an excuse to flirt. Most love triangles make it obvious which couple will prevail, but in this case, I wasn't sure which girl Roen would end up with or which one I wanted him to be with. Will, on the other hand, is clearly meant to be with Memory. He is a savage boy from Memory's past who lives in the forests of the fae and devoted his life to protect her after she was pulled through the veil. Due to some sort of confusing time magic, Will knew Memory when he was younger than her, but he aged beyond her in the magical kingdom while she remained the same.

The books have a powerful and intriguing villain. Thayl took over as king after the death of Eloryn's mother, but Memory believes that he is not as evil as everyone else thinks. He has a powerful connection to Memory that allows him to talk to her in her dreams and reveal things that Eloryn never knew about their pasts. It makes sense that he would form a bond with Memory over Eloryn because Memory doesn't trust anything she hears, which makes her more willing to listen to both sides of the story. Meanwhile, Eloryn is pure and set in her path to find the wizard who raised her and taught her everything she knows, so she would never listen to anything Thayl has to say. The girls' dissenting viewpoints about Thayl is something that carries over into the second book of the trilogy.

If you enjoy princess stories, the Memory's Wake Trilogy is a must-read. It is beautifully written, beautifully illustrated, and has something for everyone. Whether you relate more to Eloryn's innocence and faith in humankind or Memory's brutal honesty and skepticism, this series plays on the strengths of two very different types of princesses. It is filled with passion, romance, and plenty of fantasy elements. I had fallen in love with the fairy and mermaid artwork of Selina Fenech a long time ago, but now I have fallen in love with her writing as well.


Anonymous said…
Dear Lisa Dawn

Last year I wrote to tell you that I was writing a princess story and expected to finish it soon thereafter. However, I found myself expanding the story and have only just finished it! At the time, you said that you would be prepared to take a look at it. Now that it is completed I would like to send it to you and would appreciate your feedback on it. Please can you tell me what email address I can address it too.

Thank you.

'Green Glow'
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi Green Glow,

You can find a link to email me by clicking on my name in this comment or the sidebar of my blog. Thanks!

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