Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: The Memory Child by Steena Holmes

The Memory Child by Steena Holmes is a very well-written women’s fiction suspense novel dealing with postpartum psychosis, the rare illness that can include rapid mood swings, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, strange beliefs, and sometimes, infanticide.

When Brian finds out that his wife, Diane, is pregnant, he is elated. He's been patiently waiting for twelve years to become a father. But Diane has always been nervous about having children because of her family's dark past. The timing of the pregnancy also isn't ideal - Diane has just been promoted, and Brian is being called away to open a new London office for his company.

Fast-forward one year: being a mother has brought Diane a sense of joy that she'd never imagined and she's head over heels for her new baby, Grace. But things are far from perfect: Brian has still not returned from London, and Diane fears leaving the baby for even a moment. As unsettling changes in those around Diane began to emerge, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

                                                                                   A woman's dark past collides head-on with her mysterious present in this surreal and gripping family drama.                                                                       @Goodreads

 This is a topic that is quite difficult for me to write about.  My mother has a variety of mental problems, and it is believed that she experienced postpartum psychosis following my birth.  Note: There is a difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, and although my mother was never diagnosed by a doctor, she is believed to have experienced the latter.  My mother was not depressed, she was bat-shit crazy.  It is undetermined whether postpartum psychosis is hormonal or hereditary; my mother had hormonal problems (including Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), and is also bipolar.  I have inherited PMDD from my mother; this is something that has developed over recently years, starting in my mid to late twenties.  PMDD is basically very terrible PMS that includes symptoms such as mood swings, irrationality, severe irritability, and depression.  As someone that wants to have children, the possibility of experiencing postpartum depression or psychosis absolutely terrifies me, especially since I have already inherited other hormonal problems from the mother.

So yeah – this book.

Diane and Brian are going to have a baby, but Diane is terrified; her mother smothered her infant brother and committed suicide as a result of postpartum psychosis.  Brian is an amazing, loving husband, extremely excited for the birth of his first child, while Diane is more than a little hesitant, and actually considers an abortion.  Fast-forward one year:  Diane has had her baby, is completely enamored of her child like most normal mothers, but… why hasn’t Brian returned from his business trip?

The story is told in alternative perspectives between Brian, during Diane’s pregnancy, and Diane, following the birth of her baby, Claire.  Supporting characters include a nanny that Brian hired for Diane prior to his business trip, as well as Diane’s younger sister.

It is clear very early on that something is seriously fucked up, and we do not know what could have happened.  I had ideas early on – in fact, I was almost convinced at one point that I had guessed the ending, and I was fairly confident because I read a lot – but I am happy to report that I was wrong.  Why does everyone act so off around Diane?  Where is Brian, the husband-of-the-year?

The writing was very good.  I have never read anything by Steena Holmes, and did not know what to expect.  She gives the reader a good mind-fuck with this one.  Highly recommended, with an ending I did not see coming.  The pacing was perfect, and the end satisfying.

Unfortunately, I am more apprehensive than ever to have a child.  But I knew that that would occur going in.  I just couldn’t resist.

Only four stars, because there is something at the end I personally wanted done a little differently, but that didn’t affect the readability of this novel at all.  Fast-paced and hard to put down, The Memory Child is a must-read for anyone that likes a little bit of mind-fuckery with their family drama.

Note: I received an ARC copy of this novel courtesy of Netgalley and Amazon Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  I would have bought this novel based on the subject matter, though.  No doubt.

Pssst... did you know you can enter my giveaway every day for a chance to win a hardcover copy The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski?  


  1. This sounds like an excellent, thought-provoking read. Thanks for reviewing.


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