#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


#SPFBO – Not a Review : Finalist Reading Schedule, Book #7

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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 .

During Stage 2 I will read, review and score the remaining 9 finalists as will the other judges until a winner is revealed.  As with previous years I have given each of the 9 books a number and randomly selected a reading order.  Today’s post is to highlight the fifth book I will be reading and provide information regarding that particular finalist.  The first finalist I read was Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire.  This was a great start to the finals and my review can be found here.  My second book was The Fall of Erlon by Robert H Fleming which I posted my review here.  My third book was Shaun Paul Steven’s Nether Light, my review for which can be found here. My fourth book was a Norse myth inspired story called Darkness Forged by Matt Larkin and my review is here.. My fifth book was A Wind from the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree and here is my review.  My sixth book was Black Stone Heart by Michael R Fletcher, reviewed here. My seventh book is Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw (I would mention that I have now finished reading this one and will be reviewing it very soon).  In the meantime here are the details:

Last Memoria is the finalist put forward by The Weatherwax Report.  Here’s a little more information:


A character driven and heartbreaking, dark-fantasy thriller about flawed people making flawed decisions. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Joe Abercrombie.

Sarilla has learnt one thing from stealing memories. Everybody lies.

There’s nothing Sarilla hates more than stealing memories, but the king forces her to take them to keep his subjects in line. She wants to escape to where nobody knows what she is or what she can do, but her plans go awry when she runs into Falon.

Falon has a six month void in his memories that he’s desperate to restore. He doesn’t know why they were taken or what they contained, nor why the man he loves is acting so cagily about what happened during that time. He hopes to use Sarilla to get back his stolen memories and doesn’t care what she wants or why she’s desperate to escape. She will help him get them back, whether she wants to or not.

Author info:

Slytherin author with a Hufflepuff soul. ❤


RESRachel Emma Shaw is a London based author. She started writing as an escape from her PhD in neuroscience and has never stopped. She lives in a house slowly being consumed by plants and loves being outdoors. She will frequently attempt to write her books in local parks, only to inevitably end up falling asleep in the sun. If you want her to hurry up and write more books then wish for rain. Her best work is done when it’s stormy outside.

Her debut novel is Last Memoria, a story about love, lies and memory thieves.

Her website: https://rachelemmashaw.wordpress.com/

Her e-mail newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/b736c7485e1c/rache…

Her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rachelthesto…

Her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachel_emma…

Her Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/paintedre…

Her Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelEmma_Shaw

#SPFBO : Stage 1 Complete

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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.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the links and my finalist announcement can be found here.

So, the first stage of the competition is now complete, 10 finalists have been chosen, the finalist page over at Mark Lawrence’s blog can be found here but for quick reference below are all the finalists with links to Goodreads:


Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw



The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin



The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson



Black Stone Heart by Michael R Fletcher



Darkness Forged by Matt Larkin

Darkness Forged


Voice of War by Zack Argyle



The Fall of Erlon by Robert H Fleming



A Wind From the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree



Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire



Nether Light by Shaun Paul Stevens



Congratulations to all the finalists and good luck in Stage 2 😀

#SPFBO 6 – Cover love (7)

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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.  This year I’m aiming to shine a little bit of focus on some of the books either through posting excerpts to act as teasers for potential readers or through posting some of the covers and highlighting the book that way (not just for my own books but other entries).  The invitation is open to all authors from the competition – if you’d like to post an excerpt then give me a shout in the comments (also, if you’ve contacted me recently and I’ve not responded please give me a(nother) shout, I’ve noticed recently that a lot of my comments have gone straight to Spam or Pending so I may have overlooked something.

As part of the competition there is a cover contest.  The details can be found here.

So, this week’s chosen SPFBO covers are below, this week I’ve gone for some rather darker images. Feast your eyes and, of course, let me know if you have a favourite: