*This review does contain spoilers.
Rating: ★★★★ 3/4
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
After loving An Ember in the Ashes, I was so excited to get round to reading A Torch Against the Night. And after the way the first book ended, I could not wait to see how this story continued knowing it was meant to be a standalone.
So we pick up right where we left off, both Lia and Elias are on the run. And from page one we are thrusted into the action. And I kid you not when I say, this book never stops. There’s always something going on, and Sabaa Tahir doesn’t let up for one moment. I know some people found it to be a bit slow, but I personally found it to be just as action-packed as its predecessor. And in the midst of all that action, Sabaa did a really good job on expanding this world; something I was hoping she do, since we didn’t get to see much of it in Book 1. We got to see some new places as well as some new people, which overall made it a much richer read.
Another thing that was explored more in this book was the magic. In the first book, it was all mysterious and vague. And even though it is still all mysterious and vague, and I don’t quite fully understand the magic at play here, I loved learning all the little details we were given. It’s one of the things I can’t wait to read more about once Book 3 is released.
When you’re a reader, it’s always so nice when you notice an author’s writing improve between books. And this isn’t me saying An Ember in the Ashes wasn’t well-written, it’s just that A Torch against the Night felt a lot smoother. One thing I noticed a lot in this book, which I think Sabaa has a knack for, is how she’s able to make you feel all the things. There were so many moments where I was squealing at all the emotions I was experiencing. I can’t even begin to imagine how I’m gonna deal with the next two books in the series.
So now onto the best part of any book, the characters.
I liked Laia in An Ember in the Ashes, but she really came into her own in A Torch against the Night. She knew what she wanted and she went for it. No apologies. I’ve loved seeing her development over the first two books and she’s definitely a heroine that has grown on me over time (not my fave, but she’s up there).
One who is a fave, is my darling Helene. And even though, I was kinda skeptical of Helene getting her own POV, I needn’t of worried, because her chapters were by far my favourite. I became so attached to her character and seeing her suffer absolutely broke my heart (which is basically the whole book). Her chapters were hands down the hardest to read. I hope things look up for her in the next books, because the girl has nothing else to give. She needs to be protected at all costs. But knowing Sabaa, I don’t think she’s done with Helene just yet. 😢
Elias in this book was as great as always. He almost ties with Helene for my favourite character of the series. I really enjoyed reading his arc in this book. I particularly liked the idea of hanging death over such a main character. It made for a more palpable and riveting read. Although, I will say, Elias’s martyr syndrome did come off a bit whiny at times, and it did grate on my nerves slightly. Hopefully that still isn’t a thing come Book 3.
And you can’t mention Elias without also mentioning his insane mother. She is one of the reasons why I enjoy this series so much. I thought she was unbelievable in An Ember in the Ashes, but she managed to reach another level in this book. The fact she was actively trying to kill her son, still astounds me. I hope we get more of her backstory, because she is one extremely, fascinating character. Just thinking about what she’ll do next and how dark Sabaa Tahir could potentially make her, excites me beyond belief.
As you can tell from this review, I adored this sequel. I know most people weren’t as big a fan, but I found it to be even better than An Ember in the Ashes. I’ll definitely be pre-ordering the third book whenever that becomes available. I’m so happy I gave this series a chance, because its one solid YA fantasy.
I’d highly recommend it.
As always, thanks for reading.