Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw | Book Review
Being part memoria allows Sarilla to steal memories with a single touch. But it also means she is a tool for the king to use against accused traitors. Forced to steal memories from the King’s enemies, Sarilla's mind is full of memories that do not belong to her. And it's becoming harder to grasp reality. When she runs away with her brother, she is forced to choose between the habits she’s fallen into and a life of freedom. But freedom is daunting and not easily won.
Last Memoria did not turn out to be anything like I expected. Sarilla’s character threw me because she isn’t the strong female lead I have grown used to. Was it frustrating at times? Yes, I wanted to yell at Sarilla’s choices, but Rachel Emma Shaw did a fantastic job portraying a girl emotionally attached to her abuser. Sarilla was filled with so much self-loathing that she was drowning throughout this book. Many choices she made because she believed they were her only option. Sarilla’s predicament fed the darker fantasy tones I was hoping to see, even if her character was not the most likable.
But Sarilla isn’t the only character point of view we experience. Halfway through the novel, perspectives switch to Falon. In the first half of the book, readers see through Sarilla’s eyes what the people think of memoria. In the second half of the book, you are allowed to experience firsthand how memoria are viewed. Though it doesn’t sound like it should be all too different, the resentment and prejudice against the memoria are so severe. And you’ll see the misconceptions and general lack of understanding surrounding what they can and cannot do. You begin to understand Sarilla’s self-hatred and how she has become accustomed to calling herself a monster.
I do wish more time had been spent with Sarilla’s family. Whether by her having flashbacks or more time spent with her brother. Given the large impact her family and their history have on the overall story, they should have had more page time to connect with readers. But where the family relationships fell short, Rachel Emma Shaw made sure the tension between Sarilla and Falon was on point. Toss in a six-month memory gap where Falon has no idea how he should feel and you have a wonderful mix of confusion and desire.
Last Memoria deals with heavy-hitting themes in a dark fantasy world. This is no light-hearted beach read. While it does not tip into grimdark, it certainly treads the line with the extent of cruelty shown against the memoria. A definite pick if you are searching for an interesting magic system and conflicted characters.
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