Today’s team review is from Elanor.
Elanor has been reading Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford
Small Forgotten Moments is the story of Jo Mckye, an emerging artist celebrating her debut exhibition. But her fictional subject, Zenna, has become an obsession. We see Zenna infiltrating every part of Jo’s life and her unconscious as Jo increasingly struggles with telling the real from the fictional. She is driven to return to her childhood home and learn about her past in an effort to understand Zenna’s origins, and try to rid herself from this malevolent influence.
We are told early on that Jo suffers from amnesia, meaning she can’t remember any of her life before 3 years ago. Amnesia is a trope that is fairly well explored in the psychological thriller genre but I felt that the perspective here is interesting and stays on the right side of cliche. I occasionally asked myself “How would that even work?” – only to be given some insight and a whole bunch of new questions in the next chapter.
The novel focuses not on a disorientating early confusion stage of amnesia, but on Jo’s long-term experience, asking what it means to try to live a normal life, to create and plan without reference to a past – “I know I’m not who I’m supposed to be. How can I be, with so much of myself nestled so deeply within?“. In this context, Jo’s art appears as both therapy and a feverish necessity, as she wrestles unconsciously with her past.
The first person narration is so tight and unreliable that I felt some secondary characters were robbed of airtime. I wanted more of the best friend and the housemate, and in particular I felt I didn’t get a handle on Jo’s mum – though this probably reflects Jo’s own uncertainty and mental fog during her time at home.
The Cornish sea is almost a character in its own right. I loved the way Annalisa Crawford illustrates Jo’s confused mental state using the language of water as primal, uncontrollable and dangerous – foreshadowing a dramatic, psychological climax that was definitely not what I expected.
I read this book so quickly! It kept me entertained and guessing to the end. I would absolutely recommend it to fans of the genre.
Is Zenna a muse, a sleep-deprived apparition, or something much more sinister?
Suffering long-term amnesia, artist Jo Mckye is ready to start a fresh, new project after the success of her debut exhibition. But the fictional subject of the collection, Zenna, won’t let go so easily. Infiltrating Jo’s dreams—and increasingly, her waking hours—Zenna is fast becoming a dangerous obsession.
Jo is confident the answers lie at her childhood home, an idyllic Cornish village on the south-east coast; she just doesn’t know why. Only when she walks into the sea and almost drowns does the past start to unravel.
Haunting and melodic, fans of Daphne du Maurier and Daisy Johnson will adore this.