A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir

Fantasy, 452 pages, published in 2016

Synopsis: After escaping the events of An Ember in the Ashes, Laia and Elias are travelling together to attempt to rescue Laia’s brother, while Helene, newly appointed Blood Shrike, must hunt them down.

NON-SPOILER REVIEW:

I enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes, but oh man, I really, really enjoyed A Torch Against the Night! It was exciting, emotional, and the stakes where high.

I think this book approaches violence and the reality of empires so well. It is dark and scary and bad things certainly do happen, but it never feels like too much. This content is not in here to just be shocking, it is included to make the world feel real and to raise the stakes. There is never anything graphic, but you can still get a sense of the atrocities of war that are happening all around the characters. It would be easier to either ignore these things or to make them very explicit and graphic, so shoutout to Sabaa for finding such a good middle ground!

I love that Helene had such a role in this book! It was so interesting to see her mental struggle with doing what she is supposed to do versus what she wanted to do. I didn’t have too many feelings toward her in the first book, but I really grew to like her over the course of this book. I really respect her struggle of not wanting to hurt her friend, but also not betraying her country and her family.

I genuinely like both Laia and Elias as characters, as well as their relationship. I think Laia has such a fire in her and I love seeing that. I think Elias is pretty similar to Laia in that way, even if different things motivate him. I was glad that they got a little bit more development in this book. I definitely didn’t dislike them together in the first book, but that was definitely a little bit more of an insta-love attraction. However, we actually get to see them work together and have some nice moments together, which built upon that initial attraction.

I am so interested in seeing what happens next in this series! I’m not in a super rush to read A Reaper at the Gates, since I know the fourth book is a while off still. After the events at the end of this book though, I am really excited! This series has definitely been exceeding my expectations so far!

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