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A Red Heart of Memories (Spores Ferry #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  673 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
From Bram Stoker Award winner and Nebula and World Fantasy Awards finalist Nina Kiriki Hoffman comes a novel of two young people who live outside ordinary reality -- and who are about to discover life's extraordinary possibilities...
Hardcover, 329 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Ace Hardcover (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Cheryl
Feb 27, 2017 Cheryl rated it liked it
Presented like a children's book, with the cover art, small size, relatively large font, but it's not. Too sophisticated, w/ themes of regret & hope, revenge & forgiveness. And some allusions to sex and drugs and a strong motif of child abuse. So, don't be fooled like I almost was.

If you're a fan of intelligent fantasy, the kind Neil Gaiman writes, you should give this a try. I'm actually usually not simpatico w/ Gaiman, and my rating of this is purely personal. That is to say, it's an e
...more
Joe
Mar 25, 2008 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for a tender and not over the top ghost story.
This is a strange book. Written almost like a young children's novel, it really dances the edge of magical realism, fantasy, and the just plain bizarre. There's a parable for greed, a young ghost boy, and a bunch of people that were given superpowers years before without really realizing it. Note that this is far from the focus of the main plot, which revolves around a homeless, androgynous young woman who can just happen to talk to inanimate objects. Think Wonderfalls but without any jokes. An ...more
Jennifer
I am not sure what to say about this book, but I can say without a doubt that I found it utterly magical. I guess that is a bit of a pun since it is about magic and look, there is a haunted house on the cover and everything. But what I mean is that it cast a spell on me while I was reading it. I was very moved, deeply thoughtful, and warmed by this book. Nina Kiriki Hoffman has a distinctive style that I really loved. She writes about everyday magic in a way that just... assumes its existence. M ...more
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 Althea Ann rated it liked it
I'd highly recommend this and its sequel for any fans of Charles de Lint - the combination of earth magic with contemporary young characters reminds me a lot both in theme and feel of a lot of de Lint's writing.

'A Red Heart of Memories' tells the story of Matt, a homeless young(ish) woman who has the ability (probably due to past drug abuse) to mentally speak with inanimate objects. She meets a drifter, Edmund, who communes with 'spirit' and together they set out to recover his past, finding his
...more
pani Katarzyna
May 09, 2016 pani Katarzyna rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
This is way out of my comfort zone. It is not even something you can label safely into any of these typical genres, not that I am a huge fan of labeling. It tells a story of Matt, a girl who can talk to man-made objects and read people’s thoughts and Edmund, a man who can talk to nature, which is only one of a number of his powers. They coincidentally (or not?) meet and then set off on an adventure in order to settle the unsettled of Edmund’s past. If I had to describe it in just one sentence I ...more
Rachel
Feb 27, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sort of magical realism, about a woman who can talk to objects and a man who can shapeshift into objects.

The author takes magic for granted in a way that children would, without equivocation and only a cursory nod toward the fact that normal adults in reality don't believe in magic. It makes for a fairy tale aesthetic and a graceful and effortless representation of magic, easily dove-tailed into reality without getting campy or goth.

Very good psychological realism in the characters, though it
...more
Natlyn
Sep 05, 2008 Natlyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More angst, more magic, more closure.

I enjoyed this story, but felt a bit disconnected from what turned out to be the main story, probably because the point-of-view character was not the person who needed closure, but rather the person who facilitated closure. Although, in the end, I think it was a group effort.

Which brings up another reason I like Hoffman's work, created families who work together for each other's benefit.

I loved the magic here. The gold, while eventually becoming a tool for wi
...more
Bob Nolin
Jun 07, 2017 Bob Nolin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
This is a special book. It manages to pull of the difficult feat of bringing magic into the real world convincingly and simply. It took a while to find this book's reading pace, but once I was in sync with it, it drew me in. On one level, it can be read as an allegory of psychotherapy, but that's only one way to approach this unusual novel. I won't say more. This is a book that needs to be experienced with an open mind and an open heart.
Hannah Ringler
Oct 27, 2014 Hannah Ringler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, autumn. The one time of year when I never have enough time to read! And not, generally speaking, because I’m measurably more busy than the rest of the year - it’s just so damn gorgeous outside that I want to be out doing things, getting things in order for the winter.
A Red Heart of Memories is sort of the metaphorical opposite of that; it’s people, for one reason and another, coming out of the various mental or spiritual winters they’ve entered. Nina Kiriki Hoffman is really good at that -
...more
Julia
Aug 22, 2008 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matt can speak with inanimate objects and witnesses the dreams of others. She finds a kindred spirit in Edmund a kindly wandering witch on a spiritual quest to help those in need. When they meet he’s been a brick wall for three months. Together they are able to fix the holes in others and themselves.

First, Edmund must go back to find out what he did when he was a teenager. He helped Susan, but never saw her again, when they each left town. He doesn’t remember why.

“Matt cocked her head. ‘People
...more
Julie
Oct 21, 2013 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was just one big trigger for me. Unfortunately, once I start reading something like that, I can't stop or the not-knowing and loose ends in my mind will make it worse. That being said, the whole book felt like someone's therapy exercise. The dialogue was stilted and strange. The acceptance of strange happenings by everyone that "magically" enable and empower the survivors is just frustrating and often jarred me out of the story. Maybe there are abuse survivors out there who need to vis ...more
Allison
Jul 17, 2012 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars! I love Nina Kiriki Hoffman's work. The way she writes about magic, and the kind of magic she invents, is really unique and totally unlike anything else I've ever read about. I can't even try to describe the types of magic that she uses in this book because to do so would take away the surprise of coming across it in Hoffman's story. Plus, I wouldn't be able to do it justice. I think I liked A Fistfull of Sky a tiny bit better, but mostly because I identified with that main character ...more
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A Red Heart of Memories

This book continues the story begun in A Stir of Bones, going from the events in 1982 to the present time. A new character, Matt, has the ability to talk to inanimate objects. She can communicate with sidewalks, cars, houses, anything, and has been wandering from place to place doing just that.

Edmund is back in this book, older and a rather powerful witch, but a witch with some severe problems of his own. Matt wants to help him, but first they have to find Susan, the girl
...more
Mary-Beth
Nov 05, 2008 Mary-Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
My new favourite fantasy author, definitely. She writes such a crazed and frenetic magic that I can't resist. I have never read anything like it before. The magic is definitely what always drives the plot.

Here we have a friendly ghost, a man who follows spirit in order to decide where his wanderer's life will start up next and who emerges from a wall at the beginning of the story, a woman who hears what man-made objects are thinking and a strange golden magic that responds to people who will op
...more
zjakkelien
Loved it! My second book by Hoffman, and again it was wonderful. One cannot really deny that this is urban fantasy, but it is completely different from anything else with that label that I've come across. The magic is absolutely lovely. The main character talks to objects. Well, of course anyone could do that, but in her case, the objects talk back. It's making me pine for a talking house... I absolutely adore the talking house. The other magic is great as well, and has real personality. In one ...more
Lisa
Jan 21, 2010 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: paranormal
It started off well - weird and wonderful. After that, it went downhill into a subplot involving magic gold. The characters became unsure, uncertain, doubtful, trying to control the gold and what using it would mean and this didn't make for good reading. All I wanted was to get back to the interesting main plot.

I also didn't understand how the androgynous element added to the story - i.e. Matt/Matilda; Suki and Lyle.

As for the magic gold itself, it remained a part of the story but its limitation
...more
Kirsten
Feb 29, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsten by: Celia
Matt (short for Matilda) is homeless by choice (mostly) and consumed with an intense wanderlust. While she's lived on the streets for years, her life is made a lot easier by a unique ability -- she can speak to inanimate objects, and they will sometimes animate themselves to do things for her. Doors fall open at her touch (so long as she reassures them she doesn't mean any harm to the building they are protecting) and being able to talk to the trash makes it a lot easier to find food in the dump ...more
Rachel
Dec 21, 2010 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read A RED HEART OF MEMORIES when I worked in an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon - Twenty-Third Avenue Books. I picked it up because I thought the title and cover were silly. I instantly chastised myself for "judging a book by its cover." I fell in love with the main character, Matt (Matilda) Black. It is a fantastical story set in our time. Hoffman's use of colors and visual language astound me. It is warm, whimsical and fun. I've read it 5 times and always go back to it. It's my co ...more
Alisa
Nov 07, 2011 Alisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked this even better than 'Stir of Bones.' It didn't grab and entrance me as quickly, so I'm glad I read that one first. This book was more complex, and so unique. Apparently, you can just write the book you want to write without following the standard formulas and conventions. So much imagery, so much magic (and so many kinds of magic), so much personality. A book straight out of the imagination.
Cayenne
Jul 04, 2008 Cayenne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book, but it was really weird. It is a neat story about healing and forgiveness, loving your fellow-men, coming to know yourself. The magic in it is what was weird, but only weird because it was so different from any other magic I have read about. The woman can talk to manmade things and the man can talk to nature. There's this gold stuff that grants wishes. Clean and well written.
Lisa
Jul 31, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an author I'm not familiar with, a library patron returned it and as I was shelving it I looked through it. It sounded interesting, I'd put in the fantasy genre. There is a witch, a person who can talk to inanimate objects, magic "gold" and ghost. There is also a storyline about abuse that you do not normally come across in this type of fiction. The ending makes me want to know more but so far I have not found anything about a series from this author.
Maria
This was a strange book. I initially thought that it was going to be a sort of YA ghost mystery- like the sort that was popular in the late 80's and early 90's. It turned out to be an adult magical realism novel about people dealing with childhood abuse, sort of in the vein of Onion Girl by Charles de Lint.
kvon
Oct 08, 2012 kvon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Such a sweet reread. Not flawless--everyone sounds a bit like Keanu Reeves going 'whoa', sometimes it gets to psychobabble, but friends helping each other out and loving each other, healthy family relationships (and some unhealthy past abuses), learning to move on from traumatic events, finding magic.
Kylie Sparks
Dec 07, 2010 Kylie Sparks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This is a book about shamanic healing, delivered in the guise of a fantasy novel. It's flawed in some ways but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters are engaging and while the magical elements of this story are a little out of control it is definitely unique and imaginative. Psychologically this novel is brilliant. I look forward to reading other books by her.
Melanti
Mar 28, 2011 Melanti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Charles de Lint fans
Shelves: urban-fantasy, 2015
I really enjoyed Hoffman's A Fistful of Sky but I haven't been nearly as pleased with anything else I've tried by her since.

It's not a terrible book, and a friend mentioned, it'll probably appeal to those who love Charles de Lint since there's a lot of similar themes.

Crystal
Jun 26, 2008 Crystal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This is how I imagine magic to be.

*3/12/2016
I've lost count of how many times I've read this book over the years--I know I first discovered it in high school, and it was the first book by Nina Kiriki Hoffman that I read. Every time I read it, it's just as good.
Corry L.
Mar 29, 2012 Corry L. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-f
This lovely, contemplative book follows extremely broken characters with good hearts learning to put themselves back together. Magic arises so naturally in the story that it seems an extension of the characters, themselves. I also really enjoyed that this story is told largely through dialogue.
Jessica
Apr 13, 2011 Jessica marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I really love everything else I've ever read by Hoffman but I'm having some troubles with this book. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't read the short story where Matt was first introduced or what but I'm just not into this book. I am dragging through it...taking forever.
Brian
I was disappointed that this book didn't hold my interest after enjoying A Fistful of Sky. But the characters didn't seem to have any weight to them, perhaps partially because this story is a continuation of some short story.
Cindywho
Nov 07, 2009 Cindywho rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sf, ya
This is a follow-up to A Stir of Bones - about 10 years later. Something happened soon after the last book and a new character, Matt Black, meets Edmund and leads him to find old friends and confront their past. There's a lot of wish fulfillment magic/fantasy - comforting, but also cloying.
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Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s first solo novel, The Thread That Binds the Bones (1993), won the Bram Stoker Award for first novel; her second novel, The Silent Strength of Stones (1995) was a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. A Red Heart of Memories (1999, part of her “Matt Black” series), nominated for a World Fantasy Award, was followed by sequel Past the Size of Dreaming in 2001. Much o ...more
More about Nina Kiriki Hoffman...

Other Books in the Series

Spores Ferry (3 books)
  • A Stir of Bones (Red Heart of Memories, #0.5)
  • Past the Size of Dreaming (Red Heart of Memories, #2)

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