Last Memoria (Memoria Duology, #1) by Rachel Emma Shaw - book review

Write on: Fri, 15 Jan 2021 by  in Janelle's Reviews Read 2340

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*This is NOT the official SPFBO review. I read this for my own personal enjoyment*


3.5/5 stars



Blurb: 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.

Last Memoria was a surprise for me. I typically fancy forgotten-memory type of stories, and this book was no exception. But part of me wondered if it would be too YA for me. Nope. This book is certainly darker than YA fiction, and contains many tropes I love - unique POV shifts (the book switches halfway through from Sarilla to Falon), memorable characters (hello, Ced, you annoying thing, you) and unique magic. I mean, who doesn’t love vines that steal into the night to try and kill you? 

It felt like this story picked up already halfway through the tale, and I enjoyed that different aspect. The reader spends the first few chapters trying to keep up with the pace, while figuring out why exactly Sarilla and her brother are on the run. The king is chasing them for dubious reasons. The blackvine, as mentioned above, makes sudden appearances to take your identity and leave you a shell of who you were, which leads to death. But what is this blackvine, really? And why does the King desperately want Sarilla found? What are his motives? Why is he such a creepy moron? We don’t get many satisfactory answers to this, which is fine in some respects, but I wish there had been more answers for the King’s behavior. 

The blackvine, however, is very unique. The memori control it - they are a group of human-type creatures that live in hiding underground, and of which Sarilla is a halfbreed type. They also search for her, using the blackvine, which steals memories in it’s search for her. I don’t want to give too much away about WHY, though. I’ll leave it at this: I haven’t read anything quite like it. 

There is lots of death, and darkness, and characters with mixed motives, and a romance that isn’t typical. Sarilla, as far as characters go, was a bit one-sided. Her self loathing was hard to read - not because it wasn’t well done, but mostly because it’s hard to see someone hate themselves so much. But it’s been ingrained in her since birth that she is different, that she is loathsome, and that her only role in life is to be used by the King for his own ends. She doesn’t make much character growth in this area, which I wish she had. Falon, on the other hand, had a better character arc, in my opinion. He’s formed assumptions about Sarilla because of who she is, and as time goes on, he learns to not trust his own instincts about her. She’s more than just a memory-stealer, and as his story progresses, I found it quite satisfactory. 

There were some things about the worldbuilding that I wish had been more encompassing. It was hard to initially get a sense of the world, since the book takes place in only a few different settings. But what we are given was enough for me to keep reading. I hope it’s expanded on in the next book. 

All in all, I enjoyed this one. If you’re a fan of dark fantasy, unique magic, flawed and broken characters, and don’t mind less worldbuiding, you’ll enjoy Last Memoria.


By day Janelle is a nurse, mother to two autistic sons, and writer. By night, she's immersed in other worlds. Reading fantasy is her happy place. And drinking wine. And eating tacos. 

Grab her flintlock fantasy series The Rodasia Chronicles, or her epic fantasy series The Steward Saga on Amazon.