Title: The Palace of Lost Memories
Author: C.J. Archer
Genre: Fiction/ Fantasy/ YA
Source: Author Recommendation
Favourite Quote: “Trying to keep an eye on me, Captain?”
“You require both eyes.” He headed up the stairs leaving me staring at his broad back and shoulders, wondering if he’d been flirting with me or threatening me.”
Josie can’t help but be curious about the palace that showed up in their land. It happened too fast, there were no signs to indicate anything was happening, no builders coming for supplies, no mention of a king showing up in their lands, and barely any time had passed from there being a piece of grass land to a palace bigger than her entire village of Mull suddenly appearing no less than five miles away. No one from her village has been near it in fear of magic, it was the only possibility after all, but they were still curious.
When Josie comes across one of the guards who had been shot by an arrow, she put her profession above everything to help him and quickly finds herself and her father as the palace doctor when they discover someone has been poisoning the kings guests. Josie is left to stay with the patient at the palace and decides to check in on the guards in the garrison where she begins to uncover the secrets within the palace walls – no one can remember anything before the palace showed up in Mull three months ago. Everyone’s memories are completely gone and they have no idea why. With help from the handsome captain of the guard, Josie is determined to discover the truth behind the poison attack as well as the cause behind their missing memories. With her knowledge of the village and Hammer’s knowledge of the palace, they team up to help uncover the truth once and for all. Little did she expect, she’s more involved in the poison attacks whether she likes it or not when the person responsible comes knocking on her own door.
“And what did you tell them in return?” Hammer asked darkly.
“Nothing,” Brant mumbled. “I tell them nothing. I’ve got nothing to tell, have I?”
An oppressed silence filled the room, weighing me down as if it were a tangible thing. It wasn’t so much the silence that worried me, it was the look in each man’s eyes. Something made these strong men deeply, desperately sad, and it had to do with their pasts.
“Where are you all from?” I asked carefully.
Some of the guards appealed to their captain, others stared at the table or into their tankards. Hammer’s jaw firmed. He scrubbed a hand over it and I thought he would speak, but he didn’t. The silence deepened.
“We don’t know,” Brant finally said. “That’s the whole fucking problem.”
Archer does it again with another great historical magical fantasy series. I love her writing style, it’s easy to follow with great mystery that will have to guessing at every corner. I love how each main character of her series is a strong female protagonist who fights against the limits of society by pushing the boundaries with their skills, whether it’s a talented watchmaker in her Glass and Steele series, a fire starter in her Freakhouse series or a doctor who isn’t allowed to have patients in After The Rift series. You’ll come to remember these characters for their strong willed determination that sets them apart from the rest.
I really enjoyed the plot to this book, although it felt messy at times. There was occasionally too much going on that distracted you from the main story of the book. I appreciate that the entire series is going to be based around the whole magically appearing palace and the mystery behind the missing memories, so obviously there needs to be some additional storyline to keep the reader more involved – in this case, a palace full of nobles and elites, a murderer and an emotional twist to make you more invested in the protagonist. I just felt like I would have preferred more about the palace and the magic than someone poisoning guests. I was getting a bit tired of ‘Josie, we need you at the palace straight away’ for some small poisoning related reason or another. It felt flat even though the author was able to keep the mystery going until the very end. I honestly didn’t guess who the murderer was so that was something! It just missed the spark I was looking for, but then it’s only the first book of the series, I can only hope it gets better. I guess I’m just used to Archer bringing more of a ‘damn propriety’ attitude to her historical romantic love interests from the very start.
Josie is a great example of a strong female in historical fiction, although she does have her flaws. Even though she’s 24, she acts young and innocent, so while she is book smart and has the knowledge only few can hope to gain at her age, she can be naive. She doesn’t think about the dangers around her most of the time as she’s set on helping people no matter their station, whether it’s the mysterious king of a magical palace, a high ranking guard, a servant or someone from the Row – a dirty rough area of the village known for it’s dark deeds, homelessness and whores. Josie is the type of character you build on through out the series, who becomes more mature and responsible as the books go on (one would hope) so the first book is bound to have you frustrated with her at times.
Everyone at the palace can’t make up their mind whether to confide in her as an outsider to their world, or push her away. It gives her some freedom to travel back and forth to the palace no questions asked, but as she becomes more involved with the palace secrets, she suddenly expects to know more and be involved in everything. She often finds herself in situations that she shouldn’t be in – with help from Hammer, the handsome captain of the guard who she can’t make up her mind about since he’s so closed off but always looking to seek her out. Whilst she mentions feeling more for him a few times, it would have been nice to see more romance between the two of them to really create a spark, it felt lacking the best of times.
“I don’t understand you, Captain. You seem to want to confide in me then suddenly you don’t. You seem to be willing to trust me then you don’t give me proper answers when I ask a simple question.”
“Haven’t you heard? I’m an enigmatic mystery. We all are.”
“You are not funny, either.”
Hammer was intriguing with his standoffish demeanour. As a personal guard to the king, he is determined to discover the truth behind their lost memories. While the rest of the castle would rather keep the secret to themselves, Hammer is under no illusion that their secret is unique and a threat to the kingdom, he also knows that outside help would help bring some perspective on their situation. He confides in Josie in a way that will keep you wanting more as their connection grows. He’s trustworthy but you know he only reveals what he choses too when it comes to Josie and his men. Hammer is drawn to her in a way he can’t understand, even when trying to put his duty first, he can’t help but get involved with everything connecting to her. His protectiveness is sweet and heartwarming, even when she goes behind his back at times to be more involved in the action. With only Josie’s perspective throughout the story, it’s difficult to see more of Hammer’s character. Let’s hope it improves as the series goes on!
One of my favourite characters was definitely Lady Miranda. She was a breath of fresh air in the palace surrounded by stuck up nobles. While she was the kings favourite, she wasn’t interested in becoming his wife and the status it would bring her. She preferred her quiet carefree life with her family and her kind attention to Josie made me love her all the more as she felt more relaxed with her than anyone else. Miranda doesn’t look down on anyone and treats Josie with respect only a true friend would, I enjoyed their banter and Miranda’s desire to be free from expectations and etiquette.
Overall I’m keen to read more of the After The Rift series to discover more. There isn’t much reveal on the secrets of the palace and we are no closer to figuring out the reason behind the missing memories. The king may or may not be more involved than others would like to believe, it’s all left hanging. I can tell this is going to be a long series to get ready to strap in if it’s something you’re interested in reading. I’ve already got my hands on the second book – The Echo of Broken Dreams.
Thanks for reading 🙂
The king’s magnificent palace was built in a matter of weeks. No one saw the builders, no villagers are allowed beyond the gilded gate, and only one servant has ever left. The haunted look in her eyes as she was recaptured by the palace guards is something Josie, daughter of the village doctor, has never forgotten.
For Josie, the palace is a mystery that grows more intriguing after she meets the captain of the guards, a man known only as Hammer, as mysterious and captivating as the palace itself. Whispers of magic fuel Josie’s desire to uncover the truth, but an ordinary girl like her can only dream of ever being invited inside.
When the king decides to take a wife from among the eligible daughters of the noble families, the palace gates are finally thrown open and the kingdom’s elite pour in. In a court where old rivalries and new jealousies collide, the king’s favorite is poisoned and the doctor is summoned. As her father’s assistant, Josie finally sees inside the lavish walls, but she soon learns the palace won’t surrender its secrets easily, for not a single resident, from the lowest servant to the king himself, has a memory from before the palace existed.
In the search for the truth, Josie is drawn deeper into danger, and the answers she seeks might shake the very foundations of the kingdom.