#SPFBO Review (7): Last Memoria (Memoria Duology #1) by Rachel Emma Shaw

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  Stage 1 is now complete and the finalists can be found here. My previous six book reviews can be found here, here, here, here, here and here.  Today I am reviewing my seventh finalist.

Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw is the finalist put forward by the Weatherwax Report and you can find their review here.


I have such mixed feelings for this particular finalist.  I really enjoyed certain elements of the story and the memoria is such an interesting idea, on top of which this was a quick read with a very unexpected conclusion.  But, on the other hand, I felt the plot faltered in some respects and whilst the ending was very twisted it left me, at the same time, feeling a little staggered and not totally in a good way.  Now that all sounds very negative so I’m going to lighten up and focus firstly on the aspects of this that I really liked.

The writing.  It’s good.  I think the author took some risky choices with this but for me they worked out.  For example, as the story begins we meet Sarilla and her brother, on the run, in the forest.  The introduction very much assumes that readers will hit the ground running.  There’s no build up or polite dilly dallying while we get comfortable and to be honest I liked it.  I’m not saying I’d want all my books to throw me into the story in such a ‘feels like i’ve missed the start whilst making a cup of tea’, way, but, yeah, in this instance, consider me hooked.  The author also takes the unusual step of switching narrator part way through and again, considering the nature of this story I have to applaud the decision.  I think it really lends itself well to the ideas playing out and also really does highlight just how very unreliable both narrators can be.

The characters.  This is one of the areas that I do have issues with.  I don’t think that enough attention is given to many of the supporting cast, I can’t remember the name of Sarilla’s brother for example, or the King and so this makes it very difficult to have any real feelings for them when anything bad happens or the author is trying to create tension for ‘near death’ situations.  For me I experienced a definite lack of emotions on the part of most of the cast until the final few chapters when everything changed dramatically.  I mean, to be fair, I didn’t dislike Sarilla or Falon but I didn’t really warm to them either and perhaps that’s just one of the pitfalls when reading about one character who keeps her own counsel and another who is suffering massive memory loss.  Sarilla is very bitter, and not without good reason.  Her life has been difficult and as we make her acquaintance she’s running away from a situation where she’s been held captive and forced to use her abilities in terrible ways.  She’s very secretive and gives little away.  She also doesn’t feel like she has a lot of agency being pushed and pulled in lots of directions by various people.  Falon is hunting for his lost memories accompanied by a couple of friends.  Now, one of his friends is actually one of the good guys and a character that I did like.  The other comes across as a bit of an ass and gives me pause for thought about Falon himself if he has such terrible taste in companions. 

The plot is another slight area of concern for me although I’m deliberately trying to not give too much away about what takes place because of the possibility of spoilers.  In a nutshell this is about two people in search of something.  One has no memory and doesn’t really know what he’s looking for, just that he has gaps in his brain where there shouldn’t be any.  The other has so many memories that her thoughts and actions are confused and she struggles to stay in the present (as a memoria Sarilla can take a person’s memories through touch, she can also return those memories.  Having spent so long being pressured into this duty she believes herself to be a monster and has also come to realise that everyone lies – herself included).  I think my main struggle with both characters is that they seemed to lack strong motivation, direction or the good sense to come up with a plan.  But then they’re both suffering their own problems.  So, dilemma.  

I enjoyed the creativity in terms of the world building.  The Memoria people are really intriguing.  I would have loved a little longer to explore their way of life.  I enjoyed the forest with all it’s dangers and the Blackvine was a particularly cool idea.  However, I don’t feel like I spent enough time getting a feel for the place.  The ending was incredibly fast paced, the reveals coming thick and fast, but again, I think the shock ending might have had more impact for me if we’d spent a little more time getting to know the Memoria and their way of life.  As it is, the ending was a little abrupt and left me feeling oddly deflated which was a real shame after all the fast paced drama that preceded it.

Anyhow, in spite of some reservations I have to say that this is an author that I would definitely keep an eye on.  I thought she made some really excellent choices with Last Memoria not to mention coming up with some impressive ideas. 

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 6.5


7 Responses to “#SPFBO Review (7): Last Memoria (Memoria Duology #1) by Rachel Emma Shaw”

  1. Tammy

    This sounds like it has potential, but I think the lack of motivation with the characters would be hard for me too.

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