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Remembrance

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Remembrance by Rita Woods is a breakout historical debut with modern resonance, perfect for the many fans of The Underground Railroad and Orphan Train.

Remembrance…It’s a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there.

Ohio, present day. An elderly woman who is more than she seems warns against rising racism as a young woman grapples with her life.

Haiti, 1791, on the brink of revolution. When the slave Abigail is forced from her children to take her mistress to safety, she discovers New Orleans has its own powers.

1857 New Orleansa city of unrest: Following tragedy, house girl Margot is sold just before her 18th birthday and her promised freedom. Desperate, she escapes and chases a whisper.... Remembrance.

416 pages, Hardcover

First published January 21, 2020

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About the author

Rita Woods

3 books115 followers
Rita Woods was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She received a BS in Microbiology from Purdue University before graduating from Howard University College of Medicine. She completed her training at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska and currently serves as Medical Director of a Wellness Center that provides care for members of one of the largest Trade Unions in the nation.

Rita lives in suburban Chicago with her family, where she also serves as Trustee on her local library board.

She loves magic, books, history, coffee and traveling, not necessarily in that order.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 415 reviews
Profile Image for Renee (The B-Roll).
321 reviews32 followers
November 17, 2019
First of all, a huge thanks to Bookish First for an ARC of this book; I actually used the points I had saved up to request this book versus winning it.  As soon as I saw the cover I was intrigued and then once I read the synopsis I was hooked.  This book is one of many new books for this year and the very very end of last year that discusses the African and African-American experience specifically thought the Atlantic Slave Trade and slavery in the French-speaking countries and colonies of the Caribbean.  I am excited to see more of these sorts of novels and narratives coming to light and am especially taken with their science fiction/fantasy spins on them.  At the end of last year, I read The Deep and it too has that same overarching slavery-based narrative with an interesting science fiction/fantasy twist.

This novel follows three different storylines scattered throughout history but that eventually connect back together.  I love the idea of connecting histories and stories and it works perfectly for this book. 

Gaelle is a current-day woman who has lost the majority of her family after the destructive earthquake in Haiti and has made a life and home for herself in Ohio.  She works at an elderly care facility and is especially taken with one elderly African-American woman who never speaks, never moves, and never has visitors.  The facility managers and caretakers don't even know her name.  One day while on duty, Gaelle sees a dark and shadowy man in the woman's room and she learns that he calls her Winter.  Gaelle seems to always be extremely warm, to the point where if she concentrates hard enough things will burst into flames.
Margot is a young house slave in New Orleans with her sister Veronique and her mother.  As plague, fevers, and disease wreak havoc upon the city, the family she is owned by and works for must flee to their country home called Far Water.  While there, the patriarch of the family stays behind in the city and eventually succumbs to the disease.  Debt collectors visit the family home at Far Water daily but when the debt must finally be paid, the family is forced to sale young Margot and Veronique.  They are taken with a fight and moved to a much smaller family with less care than previous.  Margot realizes that she has an innate ability to sense the particles that makeup things.  With her ability, she can essentially infiltrate nearly anything and make it change its inherent structures.
Abigail is a house slave in Haiti who begins to notice changes happening amongst the other slaves on the island.  Within days, the historic Haitian Slave Revolts begin and Abigail is forced to leave the island with the family, leaving her own sons behind.  Prior to her forced departure, Abigail watches as her husband is burned alive for his part in the revolts.  They arrive in New Orleans and eventually to the family's new home where Abigail tries to make a life without her own family and without knowing the fate of her sons.  Overcome with stress and sadness, Abigail leaves the family and escapes into the bayou with the help of two strangers that follow her in the city, Simone and Josiah.  While there, they teach her the ways of religions and spiritual work that supplements her own natural abilities.  Abigail, or Mother Abigail as she is later called, has the ability to warp spacetime.  With her abilities, she warps time and space to create a safe haven for Africans on the Underground Railroad, called Remembrance.  One day, Abigail finds a baby tucked under the dead and frozen mother's body; she names her Winter.  They live at Remembrance and help others on the Underground Railroad seek safety.   
This book has soooo much going on in it, at first it seems like it would be nearly impossible to keep it all straight and understand what is happening but honestly, that is not the case at all.  Because this book is so well written and the concepts are nicely thought out, those three storylines, as well as the other characters all, mesh together so well.  How they each spill over and influence others was perhaps my favorite part of this book.  Seeing how this is done and how the characters come to realize it is so much fun to read. 

The overall concept of connecting storylines and characters was really what drew me in.  I also read that the author got the idea for this book after she saw something on quantum mechanics!  I think that little personal story about how this book's ideas came into fruition is so amazing and I loved how those scientific ideas just leached right into this book in so many ways.  This book and its multiple plot lines just feel so smart and intelligent, and well-done on so many levels.

The confluence of so many strong women was really what drew me into this book.  I was excited that three different women's storylines would be represented in this book, each offering a different view of the atrocity of slavery.  Books like this are important and need to be read more widely because it speaks upon several topics.   First, how awful, dehumanizing, and degrading slavery was.  There is a point in this book where a white character is offered the chance to think about what makes people of color the go-to selection for a slave.  I like that this book is not afraid to make some bold comments and ask some serious questions that need to be brought to life more often.  Secondly, this book highlights how strong and resilient women are and what lengths they will go through to protect what is theirs.  I especially loved that all the strong women in this book were African, African-American, or black; we need more books that showcase what horrible things women just like the characters in this book have gone through and how resilient the can be.  And thirdly, I am so glad that this book discusses covertly the lasting AND CURRENT effects and ideas of colonialism and slavery.  This is something that gets glossed over and plenty of people believe that once the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, slavery ending.  That may politically be the case, but slavery continued on for years afterward and the mental, social, physical, financial, and emotional effects of slavery are still felt today and sadly, could be continued into the future.  The general population does not realize how horrible slavery was and is, not just in terms of what these kidnapped peoples had to go through and endure but what their descendants still have to encounter and deal with today. 

I will volunteer that I am an educated white cis-female rooted in the American South living a privileged life, so I have no idea what being African-American, black, or a person of color is like or entails.  While I have no first-hand personal experience of those things, I am so glad that there are Own Voices books out there that allow me to read into these things and broaden my perspectives.  I cannot get over how important a book like this is to read and share and I hope that you take something from this review to heart and buy/borrow/read this book!      
Profile Image for sarah.
377 reviews396 followers
January 2, 2020
"Remembrance…It’s a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there. "

Remembrance is a book that transcends genres. Set in both historical periods and modern day, lightly weaving in a magical /sci fi/ fantastical element.

With majority all black cast, this book focuses on the realities of African-American people throughout the years. Contrasting storylines show the difference, but also similarities between these women hundreds of years apart- the lingering effects of colonialism and slavery.

We mainly follow 3 characters
Ohio, present day: Gaelle works at a nursing home, and leads a largely normal life- except she discovers she may not be as normal as she thinks.
Haiti, 1791: Abigail is a houseslave, but is forced to leave during the historical Haitian Slave Revolts. She meets two strangers who teaches her more about spiritual and magical abilities. She learns she has the ability to warp spacetime, and creates a safe space for Africans on the Underground Railroad, called Remembrance.
New Orleans, 1857: Margot is a young house slave, and has to flee when plagues and diseases start to spread.

I enjoyed the beginning of this, Margot and her story in particular. I loved seeing the lives of these women intertwine.
My investment and interest began to wane when the fantastical element was introduced. The pacing was also not ideal for me. It would pick up... and then fizzle out again. Every time I got invested it would switch POVs.

This is definitely very original and diverse, so if you think you will enjoy the themes, you should check it out when it releases in January.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book!
Profile Image for Erin .
1,204 reviews1,108 followers
January 17, 2020
Giveaway win!

I don't really know what I expected going into this book but I know I expected something more.

Remembrance is about "3"(its really 4) women over different centuries. And their stories are suppose to tie together at the end but I don't think it did. I enjoy the stories of the women that took place in the past(Margot was my favorite character) but the story that takes place in the current day(Gaelle) was in my opinion unnecessary. I kind of got annoyed when I came across a Gaelle chapter.

I'm not disappointed by this book because I never really had any expectations. More than anything I found the book to be overly long with lots of dead spaces plot wise. And I felt like it was missing something but I don't know what that thing is.

This review is bad(well worse than my usual bad reviews) and I'm sorry but I just can't think of words to describe my feelings about this book.

No rec but it was fine.
Profile Image for Chelsey (a_novel_idea11).
411 reviews130 followers
January 30, 2020
⭐️⭐️⭐️

Historical fiction meets fantasy in this debut novel. Told by four women across over 200 years, the story focuses on the trials and tribulations of three women possessing a power and strength of which they are all not aware.

Gaelle, an aide at a senior center in the present day, struggles to make ends meet. After her homeland suffered a devastating earthquake, she moved to the United States in an attempt to start fresh and make a life for herself. She develops a unique and somewhat frightening relationship with one particular patient at the senior center, a Jane Doe, and the relationship opens her eyes to her own self worth and strength.

Set in the 1850s, we meet Margot, a striking house slave for a wealthy family in the south. After her master dies, she and her sister run away in an attempt to find freedom and avoid being sold to someone more cruel. On the journey, Margot’s sister dies and Margot grapples with finding the will to persevere.

We meet Abigail, another slave, in the late 1700s. Happily married and a mother to two boys, Abigail has purpose and love. When her husband joins the rebels and is burned by his master, Abigail is destroyed. She reaches her breaking point when she’s sold away from her children and is forced to New Orleans. In New Orleans, lost and broken, she comes under the wing of Simona and Josiah, two powerful and spiritual beings who transform Abigail’s world.

Unleashed and learning her power, Mother Abigail creates Remembrance. Remembrance is a safe haven for runaway slaves. A world that is separate from the outside and a place where people can be free and work for the benefit of themselves and their community. Here we meet Winter, Mother Abigail’s adoptive daughter. Winter knows nothing of the outside world and is naive to its evils. Her naivety makes her weak and when Remembrance is compromised, she must unleash her own powers or allow her community to perish.

The four women’s lives intersect in unexpected ways and challenge our concepts of time and space. The writing is beautiful and creates vivid images. The characters are well developed and it’s easy for the reader to connect with and evoke empathy for their plights.

Thank you to Bookish First and the publisher for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
1,947 reviews300 followers
January 22, 2020
Remembrance is an amazing debut novel that is told in multiple timelines and narratives that has a magical and fantastical twist. I enjoyed reading about this amazing story of three strong women that is weaved seamlessly.

Rita Woods’ writing was complex with multiple plot lines and her writing was meaningful and deep. Her creativity and gripping story really caught my attention and interest.

Addressed in the story were themes such as slavery, colonialism and racism. Though laws have been passed to end slavery, we know that it still permeated society in many levels many years after. Slavery in different forms continued as part of our country’s blemished past.

I am grateful to have read this book by #ownvoices author and highlighted strong women, each with their own narrative. Wood never shied from asking the tough questions, and delivered through this novel, a powerful read.

I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Maria.
471 reviews309 followers
March 9, 2020
This will probably be one of my favourite books of the year! Rita Woods singlehandedly made me a fan of magical realism. I really enjoyed this book. Such a great choice for the February Adult Once Upon a Book Club box! The characters are beautiful, and just the writing itself - ugh, had me crying and laughing at some points. A must-read for sure!
Profile Image for Lulu.
772 reviews105 followers
April 1, 2020
Great premise, poor execution. Started off good, but fell flat during the middle and by the end I was done. This just didn’t hold my attention and I found myself struggling to finish it. I have so many questions that went unanswered which could be why I feel the ending was random and abrupt. Ehh. I don’t know. What was the point of this story?
Profile Image for Anna.
1,081 reviews88 followers
August 2, 2020
Fluctuating between the present, 1791 and 1857, the novel tells the stories of Gaelle, Abigail and Margot.
An aide at a nursing home, Gaelle wonders what is the history of the Jane Doe patient, whose silence and fierce stare are disconcerting. Abigail, a slave in Hati, married with two young boys, fears what havoc the revolution and uprising of escaped slaves will cause her family. As it closes in on their plantation her Master forces her to flee with them to New Orleans, leaving her children behind. In her distress and anger, she discovers the powers that lie within herself. Sixty six years later, New Orleans is experiencing disease and unrest. Margot, a house slave, is denied the promised freedom upon her eighteenth birthday following the death of her Master. She, along with her sister, are sold to a family in Kentucky. With her sister ill and the Master's wife on the brink of death, they set off for freedom using the Underground Railroad. Margot ends up in the magical, protected community of Remembrance, overseen by Mother Abigail. For years Mother Abigail has guarded her people, but her powers are fading, and evil is knocking at their door. How will those who have known the comfort and peace of Remembrance survive? As the story progresses the women's stories are intertwined and revealed.
While the story delves into mysticism, it was the strength, endurance and ability to rise above the horrors they endured and find the ability to thrive, caring for one another in their community that touched my heart.
3.5 stars rounds up to 4.
Profile Image for Sharon S.
159 reviews
November 9, 2019
Brilliant, intense, intriguing, mystical.

Remembrance is powerful, stunning, memorable, one of my favorites this year. It's historical, fantasy, magical, with a bit of paranormal. It touched my soul, took my mind into new heights of imagination, feelings untouched opened, a wound resurfaced, then healed.

The main characters each have a chapter dedicated to them, Gaelle, Winter, Margot, Abigail, their family history interwoven into the backdrop of different historical time frames. This novel is flawless, right down to the descriptive details, to the haunting choices, the plot effortlessly hits you in the end making sure you never forget this stunning piece of literature. I have to say it reminded me a bit of The Color Purple, but still is much different with respect to the strength of the female characters. I loved each one these characters from their flaws to their beauty.

In my opinion, everyone should read this beautiful novel.

Thank you Bookishfirst and the Forge/Macmillian Publishing Group, LLC for a chance of winning this novel for my honest review.
Profile Image for James Martin.
Author 10 books304 followers
December 25, 2020
“Remembrance” is an engrossing historical fiction novel with added features of fantasy, mysticism, and suspense that infuse it with interest and life. It’s a time-slip novel with several different stories in different time frames occurring side-by-side and yet often intersecting despite the passing of centuries. It possesses intricate world-building that carries the reader along a sometimes daunting storyline. Strong women highlight a vivid narrative that brings to light in powerful ways its enduring and empathy-inspiring themes of slavery and family. “Remembrance,” the town and the book, are both well worth the visit.
Profile Image for Read In Colour.
281 reviews437 followers
January 16, 2020
I stayed up until the wee hours of the night consuming Remembrance. From the story lines to the characters to the breathtaking escapes, I was intrigued from start to finish.

At times it felt like I was in an Octavia Butler or Tananarive Due novel, at other times it felt like Toni Morrison's Beloved. It was certainly a wild ride, but one worth hanging around for.

I find myself reviewing the story lines of the three main protagonists over and over and trying to make all of the connections. I appreciate that the author didn't clearly spell out the connection of Gaelle to Winter or Abigail, leaving the reader to determine for themselves on which woman's family tree she might find herself.

I can't praise this book enough and can't wait until others have a chance to read Remembrance.
Profile Image for Roxanne.
795 reviews59 followers
February 14, 2021
I don’t think I realized this story had magical realism before I started reading it so that was a delightful surprise. Well done to the author because it’s an excellent debut novel. I’m a huge fan of sagas that span generations, especially those that depict strong women as the central characters. The book is told in multiple timelines in the 18th, 19th and current centuries. The weakest of the three timelines story-wise is the current which I don’t even think was necessary. I also thought the ending could have been much better developed. But overall, I really enjoyed it and for a debut, this was a great book.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,802 reviews481 followers
April 10, 2020
I don’t like magical realism, and the quality of the writing did not make up for my aversion to the genre.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,218 reviews
April 18, 2020
4 stars Thank you to Forge and BookBrowse for the chance to read this book. Published January 21, 2020.

A book of mysticism - not witches - but mystics, each with their own power. Their own past and an eye to their own future.

This book follows three women, from Mother Abigail who builds Remembrance and maintains it's Edge, to Margot 60 years later, to Winter an elderly woman in a nursing home. From the 1700's to the current day. Haiti to New Orleans to Ohio. A stop on the Underground Railroad, always protected. All women running from slavery and trying to make a life of their own. Josiah, forever young, as he ages. What is his attachment? And Gaelle, the nurse, how does she fit in? A story of three women living in different time periods, yet all connected. All having a mystic power.

It took me a minute to get into this story, but once I did I could not put it down. Historical content, slavery and sacrifice, mystical connotations, all create a page turner. Learning the stories of these women was like a quantum leap - space divided and time stood still. Not all questions are answered for you, it takes some thought to understand this book. Who is the all powerful one? Who has an untapped power? Again, where does Josiah fit in?

Many surprises in this book. If you follow where it leads, the outcome is simple. But you must meld the stories together and find how the three women connect.

This book is haunting, it is intriguing, it settles heavily into your mind. You ask yourself what you would do over and over again. It melds the history of slavery with the biases of today. It throws you off balance with abrupt changes, yet holds you firmly in it's grip.

This is a debut book by Dr. Woods - and a fine book, it is.



Profile Image for Keyona.
283 reviews144 followers
March 24, 2020
Imagine a place during slavery that was safe for Black people. A community where Black people could farm, hunt, grow their families, and not have to constantly look over their shoulders for fear of being hunted. This is a place that no white person can find even if they are standing in the right spot. Imagine how frustrated they were 🤣 This place is called Remembrance and it’s been created by Mother Abigail.

We follow four women throughout the book from Saint Domingue (Haiti) in the 1700’s to Louisiana in the 1800’s to present day Ohio. This is a book that refuses to be stuffed in a box as it is a mashup of historical fiction and magical realism. As a fantasy lover I was here for it! This isn’t your typical slave narrative guys. Some of these Black women have been enslaved and refuse to go back quietly and will do everything in their power to fight. The Black men in this book don’t play around either. They’ve got guns too and are not afraid to use them to protect the women and children in this community. Can we also talk about all the creole in this book? I loved it.

The actual connection between the four women we follow was a slight disappointment I’ll admit because I was hoping for more. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the present day pov which is Gaelle because I just feel like her storyline didn’t add much overall. I found myself trying to speed through her parts to get back to the women in the past. Besides those two things this was an enjoyable read.

I definitely recommend this for fans of Octavia Butler!
Profile Image for Dawnny.
Author 1 book19 followers
January 19, 2020
A gripping historical novel. This is deeply haunting as it takes you through the lives of several women. Flipping between the past and present. A gripping and heartbreaking novel that stays with you long after. I hope they make a movie.
1,139 reviews8 followers
January 20, 2020
“‘Girl like you...they’ll have you bedded down with the master in no time. And when he gets tired of you, they’ll mate you like a hog to some old field hand...’”

Remembrance is a historical fiction novel set in three centuries—the 1700s, 1800s and present day.

The premise of this novel is that through magical powers, a slave has created a safe harbor on the Underground Railroad where whites, or blancs, cannot enter.

This book came at a time in my reading life when I was also reading Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, which has an in depth review of the particular hell Black women endured during slavery. As this book had three sister duos, the reality of what they faced was brought home in the pages of Ain’t I a Woman: rape, blame and punishment for “seducing” their white rapists, brutal beatings, losing their children, watching their daughters raped, and obviously enslavement.

Remembrance falls under my very favorite historical fiction niche: speculative/sci-fi historical fiction. Prepare yourself because this book is a doozy. It was incredibly easy to lose myself in the pages of the story. The novel features four different narrators, which sounds especially complicated for a first-time novelist, but the end result is brilliant. What is even more amazing than a debut novel this well-developed and executed is the author, who is a family doctor by trade. Her medical knowledge is a boon to the book, which features more than one healer.

This book deals with a few themes, and I’m not certain others reading it would see the same things I did. First, three of the narrators have a sister, for whom they would do anything. There are grandmothers not just to the characters but to jackass white slaveholders as well. There’s a storyline where children are separated from their mother. Children born in Remembrance are all twins. This novel is about the ties that bind us, the souls we’ve lost that we carry on in our hearts.

It’s also about the choice to stay and fight or run. Are you a part of a community or an island, fighting alone? Several times in the book, a group of enslaved people band together to fight against whites. These weren’t just plot points, they are historical moments touched on during the novel that point to this theme. There is the constant threat of freed Black men and women being caught out without papers and being sold into slavery again. That is the white people sticking together and for evil reasons. Can a community of the good fight to keep what they have?

This isn’t a tidy novel with an easy conclusion. It is a rich, layered story that will have you thinking back on its themes months down the line.

4.5 ⭐️s.
Profile Image for Mai Nguyễn.
Author 11 books1,175 followers
February 24, 2020
Whenever I come across good books, I wish that the world would stop spinning its demands towards me so that I can just sit down and enjoy the stories. Rita Woods' REMEMBRANCE is one of those books. Slavery is such a complicated subject to handle and the author did such a stunning job in this epic account across time, places, and generations. I love the novel's vivid settings and the characters who sound so real, I can hear them speak even when I have finished the book. I can't even imagine the amount of research which has gone into REMEMBRANCE, which lets me learn about the horrors of slavery and racial discrimination experienced over two centuries of American history. The world needs more historical fiction books written in the voice of women such as REMEMBRANCE. Whether you are a fan of historical fiction or not, I highly recommend this novel.
Profile Image for 2TReads.
734 reviews32 followers
April 8, 2020
"So we do what we always done, old girl. We wait and see and then we fight back. Just like we always done."- Josiah
⏳⏳⏳⏳⏳
Woods slowly and with simple yet vivid descriptors, builds her story of family, slavery, loss, generation and magic. Carefully each woman's life is crafted on the page and the reader is drawn in with the promise of intrigue, danger and triumph.
⌛⌛⌛⌛⌛
It was an intricate thread that weaved through time, connecting these four gifted women; who had each been touched by the cruelty of the world (read slavery, natural disaster, social discrimination) and endured loss, whether it was loss of children, home, grandmother, mother. This was a story of vulnerable yet powerful women, who refused to stop fighting for themselves and those they loved. Well worth the read.
⏳⏳⏳⏳⏳
I felt as if the book focused more on Abigail, Winter, and Margot (even though I loved their individual and intertwined stories) more than Gaelle, and I wanted more of her story and character arc. The way her story ended left me wanting more, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. And Josiah's character had me in a perpetual state of intrigue and the unknown.
⌛⌛⌛⌛⌛

I really enjoyed the elements from different genres that were used to collate this story. But the ending had me feeling as if they were certain threads that were left loose.
Profile Image for Judi Ross.
480 reviews10 followers
October 2, 2019
I received an ARC from the publisher for an honest review. I was expecting to read an historical novel but instead found that Remembrance was more a mystical adventure story about slavery and the Underground Railroad. What I liked was the location which was a very new approach for me. I found myself in Haiti and for a short time in New Orleans during the time of slavery. The author beautifully described the setting in each location, bringing the sights, smells and sounds to life. But unfortunately for me, the story took a turn to a more unrealistic narrative employing spirits and conjuring . There were several timelines and for a while I couldn’t see how the author was going to bring them together but she ended up doing that well. I liked the beginning and the end but the middle of the book, on a tangent I wasn’t expecting, and don’t usually care for, was a disappointment for me. If you approach this more as a magical enterprise with historic overtones, it might be what you’re looking for.
Profile Image for Deanne Patterson.
1,736 reviews122 followers
May 2, 2020
Gripping historical novel.
This one will keep you attention as your read through it.
The book takes you through the lives of several women spanning past and present it flips back and forth between the times.
This one will mesmerize you and stay with you for awhile after you read it.

Published January 21st 2020 by Forge
I was given a complimentary copy . Thank you.
All opinions expressed are my own.


Profile Image for Dawn.
336 reviews56 followers
March 27, 2021
I really wanted to like this book. I thought I would like it and for the first half or so, I really did. The writing flowed well, and the story was very captivating. I enjoyed the characters and the writers ability to tie the Haitian revolution to pre-civil war New Orleans really increased my interest in the black community’s connection to French history.

That’s where the greatness ended for me. After the first 2/3 of the story was complete, I started to doubt the author’s direction. The three settings never did completely bind together in a way that made the story make sense. Haiti and New Orleans, great! Haiti, New Orleans and present day Ohio? Eh. In fact, I could’ve done completely without the present day Ohio storyline, it wasn’t impactful or examined closely enough for it to be even remotely as strong as the other parts of the story. I didn’t care for it.

I also had an issue with slight touches of colorism in this book. Honestly, if you’re not well versed in the topic, you would easily miss it. And given that several of the characters in the story were of creole ancestry, it would make sense that most of the characters were of a lighter hue. However, in this book, all of the female characters who were considered attractive or desired were light and all of the men of that type were dark. Full stop for me.

Finally, I’m never fully entertained by a book with slavery being at the epicenter, also having a character that is written to be the white savior - especially when it’s at the end of the story. It feels like a bait and switch and I don’t appreciate it.

I would barely give this 2 stars, and that’s solely because I enjoyed the French and supernatural aspects.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Christina.
306 reviews8 followers
December 16, 2019
This is how a fantasy, historical slave fiction novel should be written. Beautiful, intense, mystical, and wrapped in magical realism.

Remembrance is a historical fiction/magical realism novel that takes place during two different time periods. The story follows three women in the pre-civil war era and one woman in the current day. Their stories intertwine in the novel, exploring the boundaries of physical space and stretching the limits of time, all while exploring the magic of vodun and other supernatural talents and abilities.

The women: Mother Abigail, Winter, Margot, and Gaelle. Somehow, each of these women are connected some way or another to each other in ways that go beyond time and place.

Remembrance is a place that was created in an attempt to take revenge on white slavers. Runaway slaves come to Remembrance in hopes of escaping life from their oppressors. This place is a sanctuary and haven to those who need safety, life, liberty and God-given freedom. This place, Remembrance, was created with vodun magic, in such a way, that the former enslaved people are living invisibly right under the noses of whites in a village near Ashtabula, Ohio. Created by the high priestess Mother Abigail, this little village houses black people who have fought for their freedom, have escaped a life of tortuous servitude, and has risked it all to live a life on the run.

Mother Abigail, a former slave from Haiti, has created Remembrance in an attempt of revenge against her and other white slavers. Her story takes us to find out how she created Remembrance, and how out of pure hatred and ultimate sadness, this place came to be.

Winter, as a baby, was brought to Remembrance. This is the only home she has. When situations arise at Remembrance, she has to decide if she’s going to fight for her home, or allow circumstances to destroy the only home she’s ever known.

Margot, a runaway slave, has found herself in Remembrance after nearly escaping re-capture. She, however, feels that things are not how they seem in Remembrance. She is curious as to how people are not caught or seen here, and she’s not going to quit until she talks to Mother Abigail about the strangeness of this place.

Gaelle, in modern day, has found herself somewhat connected and drawn towards an old woman at her job. When she discovers the old woman’s name as Winter, she becomes curious as to how she came to be at the place of her employment.

However, as time would have it, something is happening to and around Remembrance. It is up to the people of Remembrance to decide whether to protect what is theirs or live a life in the shadows fearing recapture.

The details in this book was impeccable. The timing, the flow, the pace, the plot lines, the twists, the ending!! Just a perfect read. I was literally caught on the edge of my seat throughout this book intrigued on what was happening. I swear there better be a part 2 because it ends on a cliffhanger! I would rate this book a 5!

If you didn’t like The Water Dancer, then this book is for you!

Thank you to Net Galley, Rita Woods and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Susan McGrath.
185 reviews8 followers
November 2, 2019
I received an Advance Reading Copy of Remembrance by Rita Woods from the publisher (Forge) in exchange for an honest review. Remembrance is scheduled for release on January 21, 2020.

Remembrance is a historical fiction/ magical realism novel that takes place in two different time periods. The story follows two women in the pre-civil war era and one woman in the current day. Their stories intertwine in the novel, exploring the boundaries of physical space and stretching the limits of time.

The bulk of the story takes place in and around the settlement of Remembrance. This is a community of blacks who have set themselves apart from slavery-torn America. The settlement is led by Mother Abigail, a woman with the ability to manipulate space. She protects her community, keeping them hidden from the world around them, allowing them to live a life of freedom and choose to interact with the larger world only when they choose to. At the time of the story, Mother Abigail is beginning to fade, and looking to pass her role in the community on to her her adopted daughter, Winter.

Winter is struggling to find her place in the community, and struggling to figure out what powers she might, or might not, have. Due to Mother Abigail’s failing health, the boundary between Remembrance is fading, thrusting Winter into interactions with the world she is not prepared for.

In a parallel, but later, time, we also follow Gaelle. Gaelle works in a nursing home, where she takes care of a mysterious older woman no one seems to be able to connect to. Gaelle breaks through to the woman, learning that her name is Winter, and that strange things happen when the two of them are together.

The story in Remembrance is well-developed, painting a clear picture of a community fighting to survive in a changing world. It is filled with a cast of characters with goals and challenges that drive the story forward. The story in present day was less well developed. I found myself struggling to connect this story with Remembrance, other than the obvious connection of Winter. I ended up feeling that the novel would have been complete without the current day story, since it did not seem as well-developed or important to the book as a whole.

The same applies to the characters. We spent enough time with Winter and Mother Abigail for me to understand who they were and get invested in their goals. I did not feel the same for Gaelle, largely because I just didn’t get enough time with her.

Overall, I thought Remembrance was a sometimes lovely, sometimes terrifying, sometimes magical novel that might have been even better with some adjustments to the modern-day portion of the story.
Profile Image for Katina Black.
4 reviews4 followers
February 28, 2020
Thought this book would be Dark But it really wasn’t. It has a good storyline or should I say storylines that all lead together. Maybe there will be a part two so I can learn more about Gaelle and her journey.
Profile Image for BrittsBookClub.
190 reviews11 followers
February 11, 2020
I went into this novel with the expectation of a classic historical fiction story. Instead, what I got was a historical fiction novel with some fantasy thrown into it. And you know what, I actually didn’t mind. I enjoyed the book and the storyline of the three (sometimes four) characters. I loved how the lives of the women became tied together in such a unique way. The book contained strong, female characters that had to overcome quite a bit in their lives. It was fun to follow their growth throughout the novel. I am also a huge fan of multiple points of views in a story, so I loved that about this novel. I feel like when a book is written that way we are able to get to know the characters better, rather than in a first person narrative.

I think the story of Gaelle, our present day character, could have been left out of the book. It seemed a bit extraneous and didn’t really add anything to the story. It seemed like she was just a bit haphazardly thrown in there. I think the story would’ve had a much smoother flow if her chapters had been omitted. One of the other things I had a hard time with was how long the book seemed. It seemed like there were a lot of things and events that were included that didn’t necessarily have to be. It just made the story a bit long-winded.

Overall, I thought this was a great book that provided a unique and interesting way to present such a terrible time in American history. If you like historical fiction with a little fantasy thrown in, check this one out!
Profile Image for Lekeisha The Booknerd.
928 reviews107 followers
December 19, 2019
Remembrance has a plot that, if well crafted, could be one of the greatest historical fantasies ever written. That said, it fell short for me. It took me nearly a month to read; simply because every time I came to a "present" chapter (Gaelle's POV), I would just get bored and put it down.

To understand the past, the author gives you Gaelle and Winter in this tug-of-war of what in the world is happening. I felt confused at times because the story unfolded backwards and then forward again.

I loved the historical bits. Not for the actual "history", but for the beautiful portraits the author weaved into the narrative. I'm not one for info dumps, but that is exactly what saved this novel for me. The grand landscapes of Haiti, and New Orleans in all of its splendor. Even Remembrance, where everything happened, was nothing short of mesmerizing.

If you enjoyed Ta-Nehisi' The Water Dancer, for its fantasy aspects, then Remembrance has some of its own. I'm sure getting to combustible levels will appeal to you in some way. It was actually pretty cool.

The story could have been a little more tightly packed in spots, but it is not bad for a debut. If you love historical fiction with some fantastical elements thrown in, you may enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Chandra Cox.
55 reviews2 followers
November 7, 2019
**I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

Have you ever read one of those books that really gets into your soul, deep down, and stays with you always? Rememberance is one of those books. The harrowing story starts off with a bang and goes right into the storyline. Rememberance had that feel good thing to it and I found myself hugging the book after reading a really emotional chapter. It had easily become one of my all-time favorite books, and that says a lot (as I am an avid reader and acknowledged and accepted bibliophile). Within the story, you will find love, magic, whimsy, death, slavery, family struggles and so much more. It's hard to give a review without giving too much away but this is just one of those books that will stay with you always.
Profile Image for Cassandra Ramos.
139 reviews9 followers
February 8, 2020
I’m really not quite sure how I feel about this book. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t good either .. I’m left questioning myself about what exactly did I just read?.. there are 4 women who’s gifts shape the world?? But I’m confused of how exactly they were changing anything ... I get they each have power but to what purpose did it serve ?? Can someone explain this to me I can’t quite wrap my mind around it ...

I just feel a disconnect and am left wondering things such as what was the point of Josiah? Why when remembrance was “out in the world” did these people not become slaves again??? Where the hell did Winter go (both times). What exactly was the point of Margots gift?? And how was she connected... Galle??? I am soo lost lol 😂
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