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The Memory Theater

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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  80 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In a world just parallel to ours exists a mystical realm known only as the Gardens. It is a place where feasts never end, games of croquet have devastating consequences, and teenagers are punished for growing up. For a select group of Masters, it's a decadent paradise where time stands still. For those who serve them, however, it's a slow torture where their lives can be e ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 16th 2021 by Pantheon Books
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  80 ratings  ·  24 reviews


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karen
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
wonderland-meets-neverland with more prescriptive scarification and cannibalism.

this is a fantastic read from a very dark imagination. the story-elements are almost too bonkers to type out: dora is a girl who is sometimes a rock, birthed outta the earth for a wanna-be father who very quickly didn't wanna-be a father no more. abandoned & anomalous, she spends her days in the company of thistle, a boy she has come to regard as an adopted brother. thistle lost his true name when he was kidnapped fr
...more
Jessica Woodbury
Two things up top. 1) I would like to find whoever is responsible for bringing Karin Tidbeck to the US and shake their hand heartily. 2) For readers/reviewers I want to note Tidbeck uses she/her and they/them pronouns.

I was bowled over by Tidbeck's novel AMATKA, a speculative dystopian novel that felt different from any other dystopian novel I'd ever read. I loved it enough to happily read THE MEMORY THEATER, which is much more of a fairy-tale-esque fantasy, which is normally not a genre I have
...more
Jenny Lawson
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Lovely prose. A strange and folkloric fairy tale about the fabric of reality. I struggled a little with picturing some of the more metaphoric ideas but it was very worth reading.
Elaine
A very interesting read. I liked The Memory Theater in that it reminded me of Christina Henry at times, or Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series. This very dark story has children trapped in an alternate world, a pervasive sense of dread, and an exit that's hard to find.

Dora and Thistle live in the Gardens. Thistle is a slave who serves Augusta Prima. Augusta has been scratching Thistle's skin as long as he's been there, a little at a time. Once his entire skin is marked it will be time to ki
...more
Bill Hsu
Feb 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: dogeared
There's certainly a lot to enjoy here: the wanton cruelty of the psychopathic faeries (reminding me more than a little of some self-styled "lords" and "ladies" in our reality), the concept of the Memory Theater (which doesn't come into play until almost 100 pages in), the play with time and memory and change. And the ending is quite satisfying.

It's a fairly straightforward fantasy novel; it's hard for me to get excited by work that's so respectful of genre conventions. I was hoping for more of t
...more
Margaret
I just love Karin Tidbeck's prose. No one ages in the gardens, and time does not exist. The masters there--very reminiscent of fae--hold endless revelries and have forgotten who they are. They force children who wander into the garden to be their servants, and they abuse them and eat them before the children reach adulthood. Thistle is one such servant, and Dora is his best friend/sister. Dora is the daughter of a mountain and one of the masters of the garden, but the master refuses to acknowled ...more
Jo Ladzinski
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
Read an ARC from NetGalley
Content warning: violence against children


Intricately weaving together three parallel plot threads in one neat package, The Memory Theater is an inventive little package about a sister protecting her brother, that brother trying to get his name back, and a frightening noblewoman who discovered time.

Creepy and gorgeously atmospheric, this is a must-read for fans of Scandinavian fairy tales and folklore with darker tones.

I cannot remember the last time I read a book that
...more
Emma Cathryne
Actual Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

An odd, beautiful, and brilliantly twisted novella that reminded me of Susanna Clarke's Piranesi meets Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. It follows two children, Thistle and Dora, trapped in a strange bubble universe known only as the Gardens. The Gardens are populated by violently abusive fae-like creatures known only as The Masters and a host of lost children, fallen through cracks in the universe and kept captive as servants. It chronicles Thistle
...more
Adamsfall
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*a digital review copy was provided by Random House and Pantheon *

Folklore and fairytales have always held place in my heart, as they helped craft some of the earliest memories I have of foreign worlds and magical powers. The Garden is both familiar and unfamiliar and as I begun my journey into the depths of the multiverse, I felt like I was also being taken on a wild expedition to reclaim something I’d lost.


Karin Tidbeck has done something truly special with The Memory Theater and I believe the
...more
Lauren Orrico
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
I received a free advanced copy of this book as part of a goodreads giveaway. I don't write a lot of reviews but here goes nothing!

It took me a little while to get my bearings with this book because the characters and circumstances were so unfamiliar. I would say the story summary is accurate, and the book is mostly a fantasy story with some real macabre elements thrown in. But, aside from the Gardens the worlds they describe aren't super remarkable and at times the story can feel slow.

What ma
...more
Dan Trefethen
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Karin Tidbeck is Swedish but frequently writes in English. She draws on her Swedish background for cultural connections in her fiction. Hence, her conception of Fairie includes elements from Scandanavian lore. She mixes this with contemporary themes to make a potent blend.

Her fairy kingdom features a casual brutality that is shocking, but is also set against the current world where Germany has invaded Norway and stands at the border of Sweden. Meanwhile, her Memory Theater troupe stages plays th
...more
Ze
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-not-owned
We are thrushed into the Gardens were ageless and immortal beings are catered to their every whim by children who have unfortunately wandered into their lands and have forgotten their names. In the recurring and never ending festivities the mad lords and ladies indulge in debaucheries and abuse the children who they regard as servants and playthings.

We follow Thistle, one of the servant boys and his, equally cast out,friend Dora the daughter of one of the lords who does not want her and just ba
...more
Amber
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
The blurb for this book sounded amazing. Two friends traveling through the multiverse on a quest to free themselves from the terrible Gardens.

Unfortunately, it just failed to deliver on every level for me.

The two main characters, Thistle and Dora, had interesting origin stories, but never really met their potential. The traveling through the multiverse was surprisingly dull. They did not really encounter anything new or different - I was hoping for some interesting encounters with people from t
...more
Kyra Johnson
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
A huge thank you to @pantheonbooks for my gifted copy of The Memory Theater by @ktidbeck.

In the realm of the Garden’s time does not exist. Master’s partake in endless revelries and children are lured in and abused as servants—their names and memories stolen. A servant called Thistle and his friend Nora manage to escape with the help of a mysterious traveler. The two journey through the multiverse in search of a theater troupe that can rewrite destiny. The troupe can point them in the direction
...more
David
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
There is only one problem with this book and it is a big one: it is too short.

I read the first page and though the book would be terrible. Two children hiding under a table at a ball. Ug. But by page 2, I was hooked. The story took off in directions I didn’t expect. Tidbeck is gifted with a lot of imagination.

Lots of stories have a split narrative. The Game of Thrones series does this very well. But even there, I really didn’t care what Dany was doing in Essos. Here, I was fascinated with both s
...more
Miriam
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-read, fantasy
Shade's Children meets In the Cities of Coin and Spice. (Will I ever shut up about this series? Nope, never.) Beautiful, dark, disturbing. Tidbeck has created an intriguing world and allowed us to take a brief peek behind the curtain.
...more
sigaloenta
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. This about fairyland and evil and loss and memory (and loss of memory). It also feels like a fairytale about Brechtian theater. It would make a great pair with Piranesi, but I think it's the better book (nb I loved Piranesi but I love Memory Theater more.) ...more
Megan Lillian
Feb 22, 2021 rated it liked it
2.5
M.
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-reads
It was a good read.
Abigail
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was ok
i have many questions. namely, HUH?
Aramaulia
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Sita knyga apie mane ir kitus, kurie nori gyvenimo koki supranta, o ne koks yra. Mano keleriu metu top 20, skaiciau su malonunu ir skaitysiu vel.
Tyler
Feb 22, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2-5
Was Ok but overall thought it lacked depth and felt it was a bit derivative at times.
Junkyard Attic
rated it it was amazing
Oct 23, 2020
Sara
rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2021
Jen
rated it it was ok
Jan 17, 2021
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