Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Publisher : Razorbill
Genre : Young Adult |Fantasy
Page Count: 452
Synopsis : 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. (From Goodreads)
CW: Death, violence, torture, PTSD, genocide, mass murder including children, sexual assault, emotional manipulation.
Remember when I said An Ember in the Ashes consumed me? hahahaHAHAHAHAHahahaha. Well joke’s on me, because A Torch Against the Night absolutely destroyed me. I knew it was a good idea to read it only a few weeks before A Reaper at the Gates releases because I can’t imagine agonizing like this for a year *shudders* (note that I read AEITA exactly a year before ARATG release). Anyhoo, this book has rendered me speechless and this is my attempt, a couple weeks after finishing it to gather my thoughts into semi-coherent thoughts.
I will never not be in awe of Sabaa Tahir’s writing, the prose is smooth and breathtakingly beautiful while never being overdone, every word feels chosen with care and placed just right, it also shifts ever so slightly to suit whichever POV we’re following. Speaking of perspectives, there are three this time around, in addition to Elias and Laia that we had in the first book we also have Helene *side eyes her and everything she stands for*. The descriptions are vivid, especially those of fight scenes which are very graphic and gutting. That being said, we hear a lot of the massacres happening all over but we only witness them in text a couple times, and that was enough to turn my stomach?
The story here starts right where An Ember in the Ashes left off, down to the second which means that…we don’t catch a break. A Torch Against the Night is fast paced from the start, which then slows down a bit in the middle (very much needed) just to pick up again and the plot just thickens and thickens, adding new layers to it with every page, nothing is left to chance and every little thing you read does, in fact, matter. Which brings me to the foreshadowing. SO. MUCH. FORESHADOWING. I was shook once things were revealed by how much they were hinted to and I was none the wiser.
This book does an amazing job at raising questions as to where everyone’s loyalities lay (without necessarily answering them right away), what every character’s motives are, etc… You just want to KNOW why everyone is doing what they’re doing, even the characters we don’t see much of. That’s how amazingly crafted it is. You could often hear me cursing and yelling at this book while reading which wasn’t convenient because I was up at 4am reading… There are so many twists and turns, some of which I suspected but they still hit me like a truck when they were revealed to be true. SO. MUCH. PAIN.
Laia is still my favourite. At the start of the book we see her take on a lot of responsibility all at once which pushes her to grow more into herself and gain confidence she wouldn’t have otherwise. There’s also a whole mystery surrounding her that made me very curious and eager to find out more. One thing that absolutely broke my heart is seeing how that confidence and sense of leadership she gained throughout the book was squeashed my a certain someone and all her opinions were belittled and set aside which made her doubt herself and her abilities.
ELIAS IS A MESS, SOMEONE SAVE MY BOY. Not only from everyone and everything but also from himself. He is a tortured soul that would go to any lengths for the people he loves which shows very obviously in certain turns of events in this book. He’s pure and caring but sometimes I just founds myself being the embodiment of “?????” and just wanting to yell at him to stop being such a thick headed hero and just TALK TO PEOPLE *hum* Laia *hum* and LISTEN. Speaking of Laia, the tension between these two is so palpable it near damned killed me.
Now. Helene. HELENE. H E L E N E. Ew. I still despise her, she’s the epitome of white feminist (as I said previously) and following without questionning. Her undying loyalty to the empire irks me and reading her POV made me want to hurl my phone at the wall. But that being said, getting her persepective gave place to more rounded character and was definitely interesting even if it didn’t teach me anything new about her and my assessement of her was pretty spot on. A spoiled brat who condones slavery and sees herself as a Superior HumanTM. And who also just sits and watches as genocide happens while being a high ranked military person. The one think I liked about her is how much she cared about her family.
Special notions to Afya Ara-Nur who is a fierce woman that I love to pieces. And while we’re at it, Keenan can choke, I KNEW I didn’t like him and I still don’t. A Reaper at the Gates came out last month and I’M SO STRESSED!! I hope I can get my hands on it this month!
That’s it until next time.
Did you read A Torch Against the Night? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.