Book Review: Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw

Title: Last Memoria

Author: Rachel Emma Shaw

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: May 10, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Sarilla has the power to take memories, and is branded a monster because of it even though she is the king’s caged pet. Falon wants nothing more than to reclaim the 6 months worth of memories that were stolen from him. When fate throws them back together one night on a lake, they end up on a journey across the kingdom, one seeking to destroy and one seeking answers.

The Characters: So Much Fun

Oh my goodness, I loved the characters and the ways they interacted! And I really felt for Sarilla. Reading her hurt my heart. I understood why people painted her as a monster and why she wore that mantle, but it still hurt my heart. She was born to be used and had a twisted sense of self, and I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her throughout the entire book. Everything always seemed to go from bad to worse for her and she could never catch a break.

My favorite part of the characters was the way Sarilla and the three men she encountered and ended up traveling with interacted. Falon and his two friends Cedral and Havric believe Sarilla and those like her to be monsters, especially as they have the power to take memories and they created the blackvines that wander the world stealing memories and lives. The loathing they have for her colored the way they interacted with and treated her. Some of it broke my heart, but some of it was really fun, especially since Sarilla also has a sharp tongue and a great deal of wit. As much as I just wanted the guys to accept her, I also wanted the antagonistic behaviors to continue because they really added tension and levity.

The characters were so unique and consistent, and it really helped make their interactions feel natural and fun. I loved getting to see them all from different perspectives through the way they treated each other and in different memories of them. It was interesting to see them both desperate to regain memories and to keep them hidden.

The Setting: Different, Yet Familiar

I liked the world. It was different enough to be interesting, but standard enough to be familiar and comforting. I adored that the city of Arvendon was built up and loved that the buildings were connected by bridges. I wish more of the story had been centered there, but there were other, equally interesting places to visit. Like the Deadwood where blackvines would emerge and twist their way around hapless travelers, stealing their memories and leaving them as shells.

The most interesting part of this world was the memori. A unique race of people, they are incredibly gifted in the way of memory. Not only are they able to commit to memory just about their entire lives, but they can take and give them with just a touch. Their society was fascinating and showcased how interconnected a people can be and how reliant they are on each generation to keep their memories and traditions alive. It also feeds into the fear of being forgotten, which is painful and scary.

The Plot: A Thought-Provoking Story About the Power of Memories

This was quite an interesting and thought-provoking story. It really highlighted how important memories are and how they shape a person. They’re fragile; easily lost and easily twisted. I can’t imagine what it must be like to suddenly lose memories, so can certainly understand why the memori are feared.

The only thing that bothered me about the way the story was presented was that it was separated into two parts and each part was narrated by a different character. I understood why it was done that way, but I was a little annoyed that I spent about half of Part 2 confused about who the narrator was. I got so used to one character telling the story and then suddenly had to switch to another and I guess it was a little hard for my brain to catch up and maintain the switch. But, honestly, I don’t think it could have been done any other way.

I must say that I enjoyed Part 1 much more than Part 2, mostly because it tugged at my heartstrings and I really felt for Sarilla. She was painted as both a victim and a monster, as something worthy of pity and someone to be feared. I think the first half really evoked some strong emotions in me while the second half felt more like an adventure. I was left wanting for more from Sarilla, but, as it was told from a different character’s perspective, it was fascinating to read about how memories change a person and how they not only view the world but themselves.

This story moved at such a good pace. I felt like it stalled in just the right places and didn’t provide any unnecessary information or fillers. I wasn’t entirely sure of where the story was going the entire time, but it all unfolded so naturally that I didn’t even realize I wasn’t sure what this book was supposed to be about. It was just so much fun to be swept along with the characters into a story that felt like it was being told by real people.

I love that there’s so much depth to this story. It’s more than just the effects of true memory loss and how it affects a person’s life. It’s also how memories can affect other people and the lengths people will go to protect each other and give them second chances. I think it also, in an odd way, highlights the importance of accurate communication. Each person sees events in their own ways, colored by their own emotions and knowledge. To see that play out in how memories that were passed around helped each of them understand each other better was utterly fascinating.

Overall: A Very Intriguing Read

This was such a fascinating novel. I loved the idea of how memories impact a person’s life and found the memori to be quite interesting. The characters were interesting separately, but so much more fun when thrown together. It was hard to tell whether this was more plot-driven or character-driven as the characters were strong with equally strong motivations, but there were places where it felt like things were done or decided to make the story move a certain way. Then again, it also felt entirely in character. So, a great balance between the two. Coupled with an interesting world, Last Memoria becomes an intriguing and thought-provoking novel that I think will stay with me for a long time.

How many cups of tea will you need?

4 cups will be great

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Thank you to the author, Rachel Emma Shaw, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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