Recently, I have been putting fairly popular audio books on hold from the library (through the Libby app), especially ones that are sequels to first books in series that I LOVED but I just haven’t had time to get to the rest of the series yet. The most recent like this that came through was A Torch Against the Night, the second in Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series. Read on for my review and thoughts about this glorious sequel. As always, it’s spoiler-free.
Let me just start this review with my bottom line. If you loved An Ember in the Ashes, then you will love this book. It continues the path and development of the three main characters from that book–Laia, Elias, and Helene–in a twisty-turny plot that is exciting and interesting. It easily was a 5-star read for me. I just love the world, the characters, and the story, and I like Tahir’s style of writing. It’s easy to get into and moves along at a nice pace. I liked the narrators for the audio book and was glad that they used a different one for each perspective. The voices worked and helped me to escape into the world fully.
The plot in a nutshell: Laia and Elias are fugitives attempting to travel across some harsh landscapes with only their own grit and strength to help them, in order to rescue Laia’s brother from Kauf Prison, where he may or may not still be alive. Meanwhile, Helene has been appointed Blood Shrike for the (evil) Emperor and tasked with hunting down Elias and bringing him in for a public execution. So yeah, you could say that right off the bat, there was quite a bit of tension and action. I thought the pacing was pretty good, though I understand some people don’t love it and feel it’s boring in parts. I didn’t feel that way at all! It moved steadily and inexorably toward the conclusion, and I had a really hard time turning the audiobook off at the end of my commutes. In fact, I listened to this faster than I’ve listened to almost anything because I found myself turning it on at times when I normally wouldn’t–when lying in bed at night, while taking a shower, while folding the laundry. That ought to say something about how much it drew me in!
There are also a myriad of side characters who were interesting and possibly more than they seem, including the rebel Keenan, Lieutenant Harper (perhaps my favorite new character), and tribeswoman Afya (yay for another fierce female character), as well as some pretty nasty enemies on all sides — Marcus the Emperor, Keris the Commandant, and the Warden of Kauf Prison, who I found to be creepiest of all. These characters added enough complexity to the plot to keep it interesting, while not overwhelming me to the point that I couldn’t keep things straight. I liked that.
There is a lot more I could say, but in an effort to keep this review spoiler-free, I will keep this short. I think even if you were so-so in your reaction to An Ember in the Ashes, this would be worth picking up and reading, to see if the new plot developments suck you in. I certainly was reeling at some of the events, and even though I kind of want to kill Tahir for putting me through the wringer, in the end, all I can say to her is THANK YOU for these characters and this story. I adore the three main characters equally, and Elias Veturius has totally become a top book boyfriend. ❤