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After The Rift #1

The Palace of Lost Memories

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From the author of the USA Today bestselling GLASS AND STEELE series comes this captivating new fantasy.

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.

262 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 10, 2018

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About the author

C.J. Archer

81 books3,389 followers
Over 3 MILLION books sold!

C.J. Archer is the USA Today bestselling author of historical mystery and historical fantasy novels including the GLASS AND STEELE series, the CLEOPATRA FOX MYSTERIES, the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES and the FREAK HOUSE books.

C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She spent her early childhood in the dramatic beauty of outback Queensland, Australia, but now lives in suburban Melbourne with her husband, two children and a black & white cat named Coco.

Subscribe to C.J.'s newsletter through her website to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content. Her website also contains up to date details on all her books: http://cjarcher.com

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5 stars
1,272 (33%)
4 stars
1,554 (40%)
3 stars
799 (20%)
2 stars
167 (4%)
1 star
44 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 337 reviews
Profile Image for Grace A..
384 reviews40 followers
June 23, 2022
This book is neither hot or cold, I wouldn't say that I loved it and yet, I don't particularly hate it.
The main character, Josie, is very curious and her inquisitive nature sometimes puts her in dangerous situations; but she's fearless and faces them head on. She is very likeable and made the book easy to read.
I often shy away from mystery because I have this notion that the pattern is predictable and the outcome is always the same. But the mystery of who's been poisoning people in this story had a tight lid on until the writer unveiled it, I liked that I had several guesses as to who it was and all turned out to be wrong, it was the least likely person.
I will continue with the series and see how the story goes.
Profile Image for Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen.
1,683 reviews595 followers
May 10, 2019
****4.5 Captain Stars****

I really enjoyed this book, especially since it was FREE on Kindle!!

I immediately got hooked into the story and love how there is a mystery tied into the fantasy story. After finishing...I wanted to get right into the next story especially to see what happens between Josie and the Captain!

I fell in love with this author after reading the Blade and Rose series and my love continues to grow!
Profile Image for ♏ Gina Baratono☽.
731 reviews120 followers
May 26, 2019
This book drew me in, tied me up, and refused to let me go until the very last page. I loved it!

The Palace is an immense, gold encrusted, home for the new King. Not a big deal, right? Oh yes it is. No one ever saw workers putting the building up. It was erected in an incredibly short period of time considering it's size. No one who lives in the village has been inside. It is heavily guarded. One servant managed to leave, but was recaptured by the Palace guards.

The main character in this book, Josie, witnessed them taking her and she never forgot the look in the young woman's eyes as she was taken back to the Palace. Josie is the daughter of the village doctor. She has studied along with her father, and is able to treat just about any medical condition as well as he can. However, being a woman, she will never get the title of "Doctor". Girls aren't allowed in the college. She does, however, serve the community in the one way she can, as a midwife.

Rumors run wild in the villages that the Palace went up by magical means, and continues to be under that influence. Josie does not believe such nonsense, but, oddly, her father seems to think it is entirely possible.

When a very important person falls ill inside the Palace, Josie's father is called for, and she is able to accompany him to help with whatever has happened. Thus starts an amazing adventure for Josie, and one she could never have foreseen.

This is the first book in the "After The Rift" series. I am greatly anticipating the next book. I read this one in under a day.
Profile Image for Maricel.
185 reviews9 followers
October 17, 2018
what attracted me to the book was its synopsis...a palace that is built in almost an instant with mysterious servants and staffs, with a new king from an intriguingg origin in a world where magic is just a fairytale. i was expecting the focus of the story will revolve around how the people from the palace lost their memories and how they could get it back, how the people around the area reacted with the mystery and what they'd do about it. but it turned out focus is on another plot...how to catch the poisoner of the king's favorite (which i am not interested in) and how our main character, josie, entangled herself in solving this problem. i lost interest after realising that because a murder mystery is so mundane compared to lost memories. and the process of their investigation is too elementary i thought i was reading a hardy boys or a nancy drew paperback. i really want to like it but if it's going to be another glass and steele series in a different timeline and package, i'd rather finish the other one and move on to another book.
300 reviews2 followers
October 3, 2020
Ok, so this was five stars for the concept. The idea of a castle appearing almost suddenly and everyone in it having no memory of the time before had me intrigued. I couldn't wait to start reading it. Sadly, it was only two stars for execution. I nearly stopped reading it, but finished it so that I could write an honest review of the whole book...

So what went wrong?

1. There is a school of thought that good sentences are short, clear and straight to the point, and sadly this book was a victim of that. When it came to descriptions, Archer flowed a bit more, but when it came to action, the sentences were all painfully short and abrupt. To all you wannabe authors out there, don't fall for this school of thought. It is like saying that all songs should be like Twinkle twinkle little star. Short, basic and easy to pick up. There is a place for Twinkle twinkle little star, but no one wants it on repeat for several hours. A book of 300 or more pages should be a symphony, not a basic child's song. Give me variation, a poetry of words and sentences with a little more style if you want to appear to be an excellent storyteller, not just an amateur writer.

2. The second big problem stems from it being in first person. I have read some great first person books, but many people do it badly, and, alas, Archer was one of them. The thing with first person is that all the information has to pass through one character so you have to place that character in the middle of everything. Archer did that very poorly. Josie just has to ask a few questions and suddenly everyone is telling her their secrets, including those at the castle who had just met her. The thing is, given that she needs to sneak around and see things she shouldn't, hear things she shouldn't, ask questions she shouldn't, push herself into conversations she shouldn't etc, she doesn't present as someone who is trustworthy, so all the confessions and conversations around her become lazy writing on the part of the author. They don't fit who Josie is.

3. Josie is just downright annoying. Partly because of my point above - the way she pushes her way into everything - but for so much more than that. She goes on about how she can keep a secret, and yet when Lady Miranda confides in her, she's straight down to tell all the soldiers in the garrison. She doesn't even pull Hammer aside to discuss it with him personally. She just blurts it all out. Then she gets all whiny because Hammer, who has only just met her and has no official relationship with her, won't tell her all his secrets. All the "why didn't you tell me...?" makes Josie out to be a terrible character. Then, after being followed, ending up in The Row, and nearly being attacked by a whole heap of men set on the idea of raping her, she gets all angry with her father for talking about danger, not going out on her own and generally being sensible. "I'm known in this town. No one's going to hurt me..." She seriously comes across as a complete idiot. Seriously, Archer, I get you want to write a strong woman, but give her a little commonsense.

4. Generally, all the characters were flat as pancakes. I didn't feel for any of them, didn't care for any of them, and am happy to walk away from them all.

5. Everything just felt very rushed as if Archer couldn't be bothered actually weaving a story for us. She just jumped into conversations that handed over facts, rushed through scenes, quickly told us how Josie was feeling or what she guessed about others so we could keep going and wrote a little danger that was wrapped up quickly with the big reveal...

6. The big reveal scene was actually a bit odd, as if Archer was trying to get some feeling into it but failed miserably.

I could keep going on but I won't. I will just say that as much as I would like to know what's with the castle, I really couldn't be bothered wading through two more books to get there. I just don't care that much. So sad because it has such potential.
Profile Image for Erin.
429 reviews113 followers
February 18, 2021

A magical palace built in a couple of weeks : Check
A captivating and handsome captain of the guard: Check
Girls competing to marry the king: Check


This book was AWESOME! I loved the time period, the independent main character, the captivating mystery, and of course the fact that she is friends with a large group of good looking guards. Yep, this is what I needed. Add in a dash of magic and poison and this has become one of my favorite books this year.
September 8, 2020
For anyone looking for a clean fantasy book, do not look to this one. It is peppered with bad language, including the f-bomb and mentions a suspicion of incest.
Profile Image for Lucie V..
971 reviews1,768 followers
July 26, 2022
This book is free on Amazon 🙂

✅ Pace
✅🆗 Plot
🆗 Writing and dialogues
🆗 Romance
🆗 Very convenient secret revealing

The synopsis was promising and the reviews were good, also it was free on Kindle so why not try it? This book has been on my list for a while, honestly part of it is only because of the gorgeous cover.

I was expecting the main intrigue to be about the people of the palace. About how they lost their memories or how the palace was built, but it was more focused on political intrigue. Between the poisoning and plotting from noblewomen to get the king's attention, the main character spent most of her time running to the castle to help someone, then coming back home only to find a clue that she needed to share with the captain or to be called again at the palace.

The pace was good, the story was good, it is just not what I was expecting. The writing was a bit simple, the sentences and dialogues were short and sometimes shallow. It did expand at some point when there were descriptions, but not enough to my taste. I like it when I can clearly picture what is happening.

Another thing that bothered me a little was how easily everything fell into place for Josie. She is kind and says nice things and suddenly people start to tell her their secret. People she never met before (or only once) actually tell her their secrets, it is that easy for her. The same thing for the investigation, she decides to get herself involved and somehow, she manages to find out almost all the clues from different people of from her apparently a highly developed sense of deduction... by the way, she has no room for doubt, where normal people would think that it might have happened that way, Josie goes straight to the captain and says this is how he did it, I'm sure.

Besides that, it was an easy read and while I still hope that Josie and the Captain will try to find out how everybody lost their memory, I do not think that I will read the next book.

Follow me on Instagram 🙂
Profile Image for Bria.
492 reviews
July 28, 2020
Not a bad book, but nothing special.

The characters in this book are just so boring. Usually when I read YA, I love or hate the characters. Usually characters in this genre evoke real emotion.

The author completely missed the mark with these characters. Josie, the main character, just serves as a wooden post who observes what’s going on around her. Even though the book is written in the first person, Josie barely has any emotions or any personality. She mainly just eavesdrops or stands silently as other characters talk.

Since Josie is the most emotionless character ever, the romance between her and the captain makes no sense. She mentions he has muscles like twice but doesn’t mention how he makes her feel until the end of the book. I needed more feelings and emotions and complexity to get behind this romance. It just felt blah and boring.
Profile Image for Lena.
177 reviews2 followers
February 4, 2019
I was really intrigued by the description of this book, and the storyline kept me going...until the end. I felt like even though it's a "#1" in a series, the book should be able to stand alone. Disappointed in no resolution for the poor souls in the palace and the surrounding village. I'm ok with series books, but they need to be able to stand on their own.
Profile Image for Coco.V.
48.4k reviews4 followers
Want to read
May 8, 2019
🎁 FREE on Amazon today (5/8/2019)! 🎁
Profile Image for Kajsa Hallin.
57 reviews4 followers
January 3, 2021
1,5 stars.

I found this book boring. There wasn’t a lot of plot and the characters seemed a bit childish and unrealistic. On top of that seemed most of the banter forced in my opinion.
Profile Image for KathiTheBookNerd.
197 reviews
July 18, 2020
Such a wonderful story, couldn't put it down. I'm intrigued and can't wait to find out more about Hammer and the Palace. Will Hammer and Josie end up together?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for TJ.
2,686 reviews163 followers
November 14, 2021
This is a very interesting mix of historical and fantasy. Yes, most fantasy stories read as historical, but this one makes the “real” world seem like an actual historical novel with an odd occurrence that might be magic - rather than visa-versa. And that makes this book even more engaging and fun to read!

The writing does verge on the simplistic in a way that makes it feel like a YA novel, only with adult characters. It doesn’t inhibit the enjoyment of the story but it also doesn’t allow for a lot of depth and nuance in the characters and plot-line. Still I thoroughly enjoyed this unique and creative story!

*prophesy* Have no idea what this author has in-store for the overall arc of this series but after reading this first installment, I’m going out on a limb and predicting King Leon isn’t who he claims to be but has found a way to use magic to place him where he is. That Hammer is the rightful heir and that somehow Leon and company(not sure who just yet but Balthazar is a candidate) found a way to make all this happen. We’ll see how close I am to the truth when it unravels!
Profile Image for Riddhi.
115 reviews
April 20, 2019
Mysterious story till end with endearing characters. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Zen.
1,639 reviews
November 18, 2021
Who are we without our memories

This is a interesting story concept, just waking up one day and knowing you name and job, but nothing else. I'm curious to see what else we learn about the palace.
Profile Image for deadwelshkings☽.
217 reviews26 followers
December 29, 2020
rating: 1.75 stars

The only interesting thing that kept me reading was the mention of incest.

It really pains me to give such a low rating, but this book feels like it has still to grow and learn to speak before it can tell us a story.
746 reviews7 followers
July 6, 2019
This book promised an interesting idea - a palace full of people with no memory of where they'd come from. And that was there, but it wasn't the focus of the story. The focus was a more mundane murder mystery. And that wasn't that interesting. Add in that our main character was really annoying. Mysteries always have to balance characters sticking their noses in places they don't belong with not annoying the readers but this book didn't succeed. Josie doesn't succeed in this. She loudly proclaims her competence and independence while making stupid decisions and getting herself in trouble. I just didn't like her, wasn't interested in the murder mystery and the story I wasn't interested in was doled out in drabs and dribbles.
Profile Image for L.J. Evans.
Author 25 books1,161 followers
October 13, 2018
It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I adore all of CJ Archer's books. I've binged on almost everyone of her series. This new series is no different. The Palace of Lost Memories is enticing, engaging, and magical. The mystery drew me in from page one . The strength of her female characters as they strain against the limits that their society has put on them, makes them stick out in my mind and capture my hearts. I can't wait to find out more about Josie, Hammer, and all the inhabitants of the palace. I cant' wait for her magical words to draw me back into the vivid world she's created.
Profile Image for Eva-Joy.
510 reviews38 followers
September 2, 2019
Fascinating book. I did think the romance between Josie and Hammer was way too cliched and soulless though. There were several sexual references, at least three f-words, and some other scattered profanity so that wasn't great either. But overall it was a really well-written book with a great fantasy world. I just wish it had been a stand-alone since I'll almost certainly never bother to purchase the sequel. :P
Profile Image for Delia.
349 reviews9 followers
January 17, 2020
I'm really bummed to say I didn't really like this too much. The pros is that it has a VERY cool premise, a stunning cover, and a really unique map. Even if you break down the plot, it seems to have all the right ingredients. The cons is that I just wasn't a fan of the style of writing. I think it could have used some serious editing, some better character development, and better dialogue. I won't be continuing with this series.
Profile Image for Jenika Ioffreda.
Author 5 books23 followers
June 12, 2019
Once again I read a book by C.J.Archer and I am wondering if this is the same person who wrote the Ministry of Curiosities. I loved that series, it was awesome... but this new series was pretty bland and I didn't even finish reading the first book. I am not going to continue the series. I was disappointed with "The wrong girl" "The Medium" and "The watchmaker's daughter" already...
318 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2019
A mystery set in medieval times with a suggestion of magic. This really isn't my genre, but it feels a bit common or typical. There isn't much depth to the characters or plot. Perhaps it is a set up for the future books of the series, but I wouldn't expect much from future installments.
Profile Image for Celia Buell.
556 reviews26 followers
January 26, 2021
I'm never sure how to feel about castle fantasy, especially in the form of free books in general, and fantasy can mean a hundred different things to individuals. That said, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book from an author whose work I have quite a few copies of, but have never read.

I enjoyed the world in this novel from the moment I set foot in it. I like the idea of a land that knows and yet actively denies magic exists, even in the face of something that cannot be explained by science or other explanations the townspeople have at their disposal.

I do feel like there's a little bit missing from the description of the world, but at the same time I think that's part of the mystery, because the characters themselves don't know much about their world or the outside world either.

The characters are really strong, especially Josie, the narrator and MC. She is a stubborn and headstrong woman who also realizes when she's lost a battle, and because of this she is able to make responsible choices that lead her to become a well-respected figure in the castle, even as an outsider.

I also love Hammer, who is also calm and collected, but does not always have the best judgement. Both of these characters are strong as well as being flawed. The romance between them is neither slow burn nor instalove, but it's more of a friends to lovers story, and the romance isn't really even introduced in the context of the story. I have a feeling we'll have to wait for further books to see it fleshed out, which is exactly my favorite kind of relationship.

I enjoyed the mystery in the story as well. For all the aforementioned reasons, it is not like the cozy mysteries I've been reading, although it certainly focuses more on the characters' stories and budding romance more than the mystery. Even so, there is something distinctly unique about the style of fantasy mystery in this book that I have not encountered elsewhere.

This book had an almost Cinderella-like feel to it, with the nobles at the ball and a local who gets a taste of palace life, but without the main character being the king's love interest. I really like the way this plays out.

I would definitely consider continuing this series, this first book sets up an interesting premise for a series that can go in many different directions, and I'm looking forward to the next book.
Profile Image for D. Peach.
Author 22 books135 followers
April 25, 2023
Josie is the daughter of a village doctor, a healer in her own right though women aren’t considered worthy of schooling or the title. Near their home is the mysterious palace of the king, which magically appeared over the span of a few weeks. No craftsman, guard, or servant has been allowed in or out through its gates. Then a dangerous illness befalls the king’s betrothed. Josie accompanies her father to the palace and uncovers two new mysteries: there is a poisoner on the loose, and everyone in the palace has lost all but the last two months of their memories.

The plot in this first installment of the “After the Rift” 5-book series revolves around the hunt for the poisoner. Questions about what happened to everyone’s memories are explored, but the answers are saved for later in the series. A romantic subplot develops between Josie and Hammer, the captain of the palace guard, a relationship that took its time and which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Josie and Hammer are very likable characters and easy to root for. The story unfolds in Josie’s first-person point of view, so I had an “open book” view of her thoughts and motivations. Hammer is another story, so to speak. He’s complex, and the mystery surrounding his memory loss and past makes him wonderfully intriguing. Teasers abound and serve as a great hook for the next book in the series. Highly recommended to fantasy readers of all ages.
Profile Image for Mari.
1,291 reviews
October 14, 2018
I thought this book was a good start to a new series.

Josie is a doctor's daughter. She's devoted herself to learning all she can about medicine. Problem is it's illegal for a woman to become a doctor. The most she can be is a midwife.

There is a new king and his palace was built in a few weeks. No one saw the workers while the palace was built. The new king has decided to take a wife so all unmarried daughters of the nobility have been ordered to the palace. Soon after the king's favorite is poisoned. Josie and her father are called to diagnose and create an antidote. There Josie meets the captain of the guard, Hammer.

Over time Josie learns that Hammer and the rest of the servants have no memory of their prior lives. They woke up in the palace only knowing their names and duties. They're afraid that magic is responsible. Josie and Hammer try to solve the mystery surrounding the palace as well as the identity of the poisoner. Eventually they do discover who the poisoner is but the mystery of the palace and the servant's memories remains unsolved.

I liked the characters. I'll read the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Mena.
144 reviews77 followers
November 13, 2020
Actual rating: 2.7

This quick read was not at all what I expected.

For one, it's more mystery than fantasy, and I was quite surprised since I went into it blind.

There are two major mysteries we're introduced to in this book. First, the mystery of the gold palace and it's staff which and who seemed to come out of nowhere and no memory of where they came from, hence the title. And secondly we have the mystery of the poisoner. The poisoner mystery took centre stage in this book, while the first (which is the main mystery for the series) was pretty much put in the back burner.

Now the thing is, I did not find the poisoner mystery at all compelling, and I thought the resolution was shoddy. This is the major reason I didn't rate this book higher.

The author has however laid the stage quite well for the palace/palace staff mystery, (I mean, I'm hyped as hell) and I'm curious to see how that plays out in the next book.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 337 reviews

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