In The Memory Theater a girl and a boy, Dora and Thistle, escape from a palace during a perpetual, eternal summer evening party, where nobles murder and devour children as a regular part of the evening entertainment, somewhere between dessert and rounds of croquet on the lawn. Unfortunately for Dora and Thistle, one of the nobles, the monstrous and fabulously dressed Lady Augusta, follows them as they flee across worlds.
The line between fairy tales and the horror genre is incredibly porous. But few stories that I have read straddle that line as well as the lyric and dreamlike The Memory Theater. Read it because Lady Augusta is so engagingly self involved and petty that you kind of end up rooting for her, until you are reminded why that’s a horrible idea. Read it because the multiverse that Karin Tidbek creates makes a strange sort of sense that follows you around a long time after you’ve put the book down. Read it because you are a fan of Neil Gaimain’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and feel the need for some children discovering how to be adults by way of confronting monsters. Read it because growing up can be terrifying and monstrous, except for the friends that you manage to hold on to along the way. Read it because, as in so many of the best stories about the quest to return home, there is the bittersweet knowledge that home does not stay unchanged while you're gone, so you can never truly return to what you left, you can only try to build it anew.