Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, April 2019
Reviewed by Tara Grímravn
On April 30, Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores published Patrick Hurley’s “The Memory Bank & Trust.” This short tale of the fantastical takes place in the fictional city of Varrowmind, where memorist Vanan Quick runs the Memory Bank & Trust. There, he stores memories, sometimes for those in danger of forgetting them and, at other times, for those wishing to earn coin off their adventurous exploits by selling them to Vanan. When 15-year-old Serafina enters his shop, willingly possessed by a flameless djinn in need of help, he is offered the opportunity to obtain three priceless memories in return for his assistance. The reward, however, may carry a hidden cost, as he soon discovers.
I’ve long had a fascination with djinn, particularly those of pre-Islamic folklore, and it was nice to see that Hurley did not reduce La Nar to just another wish-granter or a Disney-esque comedian as is so often done. Instead, the djinn in this tale regains his rightful role as a powerful trickster with little regard for mortal well-being, and I have to admit to liking the villain for this reason.
La Nar’s duplicity provides a well-balanced counterpoint to Vanan’s nobility, which itself was something of a surprise. At the start, it seemed as though the memorist would have dismissed the girl as a vagrant had it not been for the voice of the djinn that sprang from her mouth and, in the end, he becomes her savior. Hurley’s treatment of La Nar’s possession of Serafina also deserves a mention. I genuinely appreciated that it is not the typical Exorcist-type scenario, a cliché which is far beyond worn-out at this point.
Personally, I quite enjoyed Hurley’s story and I’m certain that I won’t be alone in that. It’s most definitely a worthwhile entry into the genre.