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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Evoke by Danielle Simmons is a coming-of-age story with strong psychological underpinnings, a story of loss and one woman’s struggle to come to grips with a painful tragedy. Set in the imaginary locale of Lake Haven, Maine, we follow five childhood friends who meet again when they come back home for summer. But then an accident claims the lives of three of these friends. Laney Thomas wakes up months later to the startling realization that she’s the only survivor in an accident in which three of her friends have lost their lives. She remembers nothing about the accident and the week leading up to the event. Evan, the only friend in the group who happened to be away during the accident, stays close to her. But can Evan — in spite of the bond they share — help her understand what happened? When Evan suddenly disappears without a word, Laney experiences the worst form of darkness. Can memories of her past guide her to the truth buried in the deep recesses of her heart?
Layer by grueling layer, Danielle Simmons leads readers into the depths of her characters. The narrative starts with a powerful premise — friends meeting after a long period of absence, then an accident that leaves one of them without any memory of what happened and a painful loss. I got utterly involved as I followed the protagonist, hoping against all hope that she found the tools she needed to get answers. The emotion is strong and it is enabled by the fine prose that captures emotions in detail. The plot structure is well designed, starting with questions and introducing a crisis that permeates every aspect of the narrative. Evoke is atmospheric, deeply moving, and emotionally intense. The protagonist left me with strong echoes of the protagonist in Before I Go to Sleep. An edge-of-your-seat kind of read!