Review: The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville

Goodreads Synopsis: Perfect for fans of The Scent Keeper and The Keeper of Lost Things, an atmospheric and enchanting debut novel about two women haunted by buried secrets but bound by a shared gift and the power the past holds over our lives. Ev has a mysterious ability, one that she feels is more a curse than a gift. She can feel the emotions people leave behind on objects and believes that most of them need to be handled extremely carefully, and—if at all possible—destroyed. The harmless ones she sells at Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market to scrape together a living, but even that fills her with trepidation. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Harriet hoards thousands of these treasures and is starting to make her neighbours sick as the overabundance of heightened emotions start seeping through her apartment walls. When the two women meet, Harriet knows that Ev is the only person who can help her make something truly spectacular of her collection. A museum of memory that not only feels warm and inviting but can heal the emotional wounds many people unknowingly carry around. They only know of one other person like them, and they fear the dark effects these objects had on him. Together, they help each other to develop and control their gift, so that what happened to him never happens again. But unbeknownst to them, the same darkness is wrapping itself around another, dragging them down a path that already destroyed Ev’s family once, and threatens to annihilate what little she has left. The Memory Collectors casts the everyday in a new light, speaking volumes to the hold that our past has over us—contained, at times, in seemingly innocuous objects—and uncovering a truth that both women have tried hard to bury with their pasts: not all magpies collect shiny things—sometimes they gather darkness.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism

Publication Date: March 16th, 2021

Publisher: Atria Books

Length: 400 pages

My rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author, Atria Books and Netgalley for the digital ARC of this book. 

Ev and Harriet are two very different people, but they share a similar gift. Both women are able to feel emotions left behind in objects, the good and the bad. Ev sees this ability as a curse, and uses it only to sell items in Vancouver’s night market. Harriet sees this ability as something more, and she hoards especially powerful items in her apartment, much to the detriment of her neighbours. Harriet has an idea to transform her treasures into a museum that everyone can enjoy, but Ev isn’t so sure this is a good plan. She knows more than anyone that items with negative emotions can do harm, and they can even rip families apart. 

I really enjoyed this concept of emotionally imbued objects. Kim Neville took the idea of items carrying sentimental or emotional value and it made it into something magical and thoroughly entertaining. The writing style is inviting, like a favourite blanket, and it pulls you into the story right from the beginning. Kim Neville was able to covey feelings of loneliness, longing, anticipation and claustrophobia wonderfully, so the reader is completely immersed in the story. 

Evelyn and Harriet as main characters are two interesting perspectives on a unique ability. It was a bit like having an optimist and a pessimist as narrators, which brought another layer of depth to the story. The side characters were equally well developed. I thought everyone had a very interesting and layered storyline, and they were all flawed in unique and colourful ways. I appreciate well done character development, even if it is negative development.  

I think the Memory Collectors is a great debut novel to add to 2021 reading lists. It is full of engaging characters, the plot contains unexpected twists that keep you interested, and as a fun bonus it’s set in Vancouver, Canada! It’s a good choice for anyone looking for an exciting and yet comforting read, as well as fans of magical realism. Pre-order or purchase on March 16th, 2021.  


  1. Noelle says:

    The concept of emotionally imbued objects does sound very interesting! I haven’t read anything like this before. Thanks for your review! 🙂

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