Ev has a mysterious ability, one that she feels is more a curse than a gift. She can feel the emotions people leave behind on objects and believes that most of them need to be handled extremely carefully, and—if at all possible—destroyed. The harmless ones she sells at Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market to scrape together a living, but even that fills her with trepidation. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Harriet hoards thousands of these treasures and is starting to make her neighbors sick as the overabundance of heightened emotions start seeping through her apartment walls.
When the two women meet, Harriet knows that Ev is the only person who can help her make something truly spectacular of her collection. A museum of memory that not only feels warm and inviting but can heal the emotional wounds many people unknowingly carry around. They only know of one other person like them, and they fear the dark effects these objects had on him. Together, they help each other to develop and control their gift, so that what happened to him never happens again. But unbeknownst to them, the same darkness is wrapping itself around another, dragging them down a path that already destroyed Ev’s family once, and threatens to annihilate what little she has left.
This was an odd book. Maybe quirky would be a better word, but either way, it’s unusual. It’s different, but the way Ev and Harriet see the world, the way their minds work, made for fascinating reading. No matter what Harriet tries to tell herself, she’s a hoarder. And reading about the hoarder house was moderately terrifying. Marie Kondo she is not. This book is also not light reading—there are heavy, sad topics and dark emotions all throughout, but it is also very intriguing.
Kim Neville lives in Canada. The Memory Collectors is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.)