... breathtaking ... Woods weaves her magic into realistic descriptions seamlessly, almost as if they were emotional projections made real ... That the supernatural is plausibly presented as quotidian, a part of nature, speaks to the author’s skill ... None of this deft syncretism would matter were it not in the service of a grand tale. With a few striking exceptions, Woods does not dwell on the greater atrocities of slavery — the increasing lightness of each generation’s skin says enough — focusing instead on the everyday trials that bring these strong female characters to life. By the time of the book’s climax, when a young mother faces the loss of her babies, all the preceding centuries of grief and rage come through, as do the love and commitment these newfound families have forged. That’s a kind of magic that merits rereading, summoning realities that still have repercussions today.
...a complex story of loss and survival told across 200 years by four women, united by the color of their skin and the supernatural powers they command. It's an ambitious, absorbing novel that's occasionally let down by lengthy exposition and frequent jumps between points of view ... Woods' book is filled with fantastical elements, and while in spots I felt the connection between slavery and magic was an uneasy one, I appreciated that the author doesn't credit a singular superpower ... With so many characters, each with their own story, Remembrance is bound to have twists and turns. But Woods drops some of the surprises on us too abruptly ... Nonetheless, Woods creates memorable characters ... a well-researched, epic historical fantasy that, despite its flaws, delivers upon the themes of pain and suffering, loss and survival.
... a fascinating look at what it means to have some power in the most disempowering circumstances imaginable ... Though the human foils in the story are sometimes complex and, at other times, resemble stock villains and sidekicks, the book is compelling. Woods demystifies the supernatural, explicates little-known aspects of history, explores well-known histories afresh, and declares dignity as characteristic of what could be considered American history’s most abused women. And — with the exception of a slow start — she tells a story that will make you keep reading about the people and places she creates ... throughout, mental anguish is omnipresent, rendered in a manner that is weighty but never engenders pity ... What makes this book unique and worthy of readers’ time is this dual exploration into trauma and resilience ... There are many tensions like this, and Woods’ navigation of them is masterful. She is especially comfortable in the realm of things that are usually part of mystical traditions ... Readers might find themselves thrown off by coincidences that seem a bit too easy. They might wince at dialogue that sounds inconsistent or, sometimes, too modern. They might feel that the narrative occasionally invokes sentimentality for effect ... Woods has created characters for the ages and a glimpse at a seemingly impossible world made very real.
Woods’ writing is assured, the historical settings vivid, and her characters fully realized. Hand this to fans of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2016) and Octavia Butler’s Kindred, who will appreciate this complex, genre-blending debut.
Scenes drag on as characters ruminate over various courses of action. Plans are too often interrupted by happenstance, which, though realistic, is not all that interesting. And the novel subverts its own suspense by revealing crucial facts way too early ... Despite a few rookie missteps, the novel's originality makes it worth reading.