Annike: Hey guys, so I’m here today with a review on the amazing second book of Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series. I read the first one in January and did a review on it so make sure to check that out first and here is my review on the second on – A Torch Against the Night. I’ve decided to do a non-spoiler review so if you haven’t read the books it should mostly be ok to read and if you have read it you will probably understand some of the references better!!
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 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.
So, this book was really such an emotional roller coaster. It started off where it left off, with Elias and Laia on the run from the empire that they just escaped. It starts both fast paced and full of action so reeled me on really early. I do have to admit, I read the first 150 or so pages of this book and then abruptly didn’t end up picking it up for about 2 weeks so I’m a little rusty on the beginning. I actually worried for a bit that stopping it for so long would ruin it a bit for me, and I even told Zoe that I couldn’t give it 5 stars because it didn’t seem to reel me in as much as AEITA, however those last 100 or so pages absolutely shattered me.
We are given the perspective of Helene in this book as well which was my least favourite perspective of the book but at the same time I didn’t not like reading about her. She had very fast paced and sometimes horrifying chapters that were so impacting. She faced so many struggles, questions of whether to try to save her family, the empire or Elias and her decision making really defined her in the book. I felt that I liked her a lot more in this book however compared to in AEITA.
Elias’s chapters start with his travels with Laia, then there are others in The Waiting Place, which I found a really interesting concept, and then others where he was alone. No matter where Elias was, I was always so invested and I absolutely loved reading about every thing he got himself into.
And the lastly there was Laia. Laia was a character that I adored in the first book and I think I adored just as much in this one. It’s so awesome to see how such a small and frail girl has changed so much in these 2 books and I loved getting to see her become so much more fierce and just so determined to find her brother. At the same time, I never really liked Keenan at all so it was hard for me to connect with how Laia liked him when I was only ever rooting for Elias and Laia. Keenan was however a character who definitely brought a lot to the story – if you’ve read the book you’ll know what I mean. I was actually spoiled about like the biggest plot point of the story ^ which kind of sucked but still the whole idea was amazingly thought out.
The story overall has very little romance, just a small bit in the middle and right at the end. Most of the story is full of action and it can be rather horrifying at points with all the bloodshed and pain. However this was one of the parts that I loved reading about – as sadistic as that sounds it was one of the most powerful parts of the book and it kept me reeling for more. I also really loved to read about how all the characters dealt with the suffering that they had thrust onto them, with such big hearts they were all really resilient in the face of pain.
Overall, the book was so riveting and just so powerful. Sabaa Tahir has some of the best writing in young adult books that I’ve read as it is just so moving. There were parts of the book where I just had to reread sentences and really let them sink in. Reading about Helene, Elias and Laia was just as good as the last time and it’s safe to say that I am dying for the 3rd book already even though it’s going to be such a long time until it comes out. HELP ME! 🙂
“But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”