Title: A Torch Against the Night
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Format: Purchased Hardcover
Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.
Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.
But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.
As this is a sequel there may be spoilers in this review.
This sequel to An Ember in the Ashes was nothing short of a roller coaster of a ride, and it was such a phenomenal way to continue the story.
Remember when we weren’t getting a sequel? Oh, how those days were dark and unfair. But now that we have it, and we’re getting two more books after this one, I have to say that the publisher made the right decision because Sabaa SLAYED this book.
The plot picked up right where the first book left off with Elias and Laia running for their lives from the Empire and Blackcliff. It was a few intense first chapters, including with Helene being interrogated for answers, and I thought that it was a strong beginning for the book. As the book continued, the plot began to grow and twist and there were so many hints that I tried to pick up as I went along to figure out if someone was who they were, or if a certain action was going to happen, or if there was something that foreshadowed something later in the book.
It was a roller coaster ride and I think I fell in love with the characters even more in this book, though there were a few bumps along the way that had me wanting to yell at them to pick a different choice.
Laia was just as strong in this book as the last and I felt that she definitely grew as a character. Her mysterious power was revealed more and she didn’t even realize she was doing it until an event later on in the book. I thought that her own surprise was a good thing to incorporate, but I also wish her powers were explained a little more. I do love her, though, because despite everything she’s gone through she still has a very kind and caring heart, and she has a fire in her that doesn’t burn out. Though there was misplaced trust and uncertain feelings, I thought that she was just an exceptional character.
Elias was going through a lot in this book mentally and physically, and I think that coupled with what he had been told about himself being, essentially, a curse kind of took a lot out of him. He held himself back a lot and wanted to do a lot of things on his own when he would have benefited from having someone help him, which was very frustrating to me. But, I understood, at the same time, where he was coming from given his past and everything that went along with it. I did think he was extremely brave, though, and that he made a lot of good and bad decisions. He’s only human, after all.
Helene was probably the most conflicted of all of the characters because her heart and her duty were at war with one another the entire book, and I felt so sad for her because of it. She tries to be the Blood Shrike everyone expects her to be, and she’s extremely smart and capable of her new job, but almost everyone looks down on her because she’s a young woman. I like that she never let that get to her, though, and instead showed everyone just how strong and capable she actually was. I want her to find her own happiness because she deserves it, damn it.
There were so many secrets throughout this novel, so many questions that I have, and I need to know what they are. Why does Marcus talk to himself? What is the Commandant actually doing? What will happen with Elias and Laia? I need to know!
The action sequences were also stellar because they were fast paced and I could imagine every single slice or hit with clarity; I felt like I was watching an action movie. Everything felt like it belonged in that world seamlessly, and I think that the way it was delivered made it beautiful.
There was some romance in the book, and when a certain thing happened I was like, “But why?” And then more things were revealed and I was like, “Oh hell no.” I think that the tension between Laia and Elias was so thick you could have cut it with a knife, even though both of them tried to deny it multiple times. It was cute, really.
I’m just reeling from this book. My mind doesn’t know what to think, where to go, or how to really comprehend everything that went on because there was SO much that happened. I’m satisfied with how it ended the way it did and I’m definitely excited to read the next book.
I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’ve read the first book.