Book review: The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave


The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (first published in 2018 by Quercus Books)

In a world where human consciousness can be uploaded into a carefully curated afterlife, Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she’s damn good at her job.

When the terminally ill Jarek arrives for an appointment, she can’t help but be swayed by the plight of his imminent death, despite his youth. Unlike her other clients, Jarek is young, the news of his death given suddenly.

In giving all her attention to Jarek’s idea of a heaven, and working through his memories with him, she experiences the tug of love, and knows he feels the same way.

However, the pair’s passionate affair is short-lived, ended by Jarek’s death. Yet while Isobel is still trying to come to terms with this raw loss, she discovers that Jarek’s wife was also found dead, and foul play is suspected.

When Isobel is enlisted to help the police untangle Jarek’s memories, she learns that some secrets cannot be forgotten.

The Memory Chamber is carefully divided into two stories – a before and after – the first part recounts Isobel’s romance, her steady descent into loving bliss.

Not a great fan of romances, this section of Holly Cave’s novel was somewhat too slow for my liking.

However, the second part of this story more than made up for any eye-rolling I may have done in the first few chapters. In uncovering who killed Jarek’s wife, and why, Cave’s tale takes on a dark, almost taboo feeling.

Together with a wholly new realisation of the afterlife and the pros and cons of our meddling in it, the overall effect is dazzling.

I devoured the latter half of the book, eager to uncover the truth and preparing myself for an immense ending, and I was thankfully not disappointed. The sheer level of tension that builds up is enough to make any reader’s hairs stand on end, and enjoyably so.

Holly Cave has created a brilliant world with enticing treats for any reader (romance fans or not) and this book is well worth a read, and equally worthy of being recommended to friends and family – so go on, do it.

Purchase a copy of the book from

Read more of Samantha’s reviews on her book blog and check out her Instagram account.

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Do you think it's important to get married in this day and age?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
23% - 952 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
9% - 383 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
49% - 2079 votes
Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
1% - 58 votes
It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
18% - 740 votes