Title: A Torch Against the Night
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Pub Date: August 30, 2016
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, Romance
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
“Don’t look so worried. Most successful missions are just a series of barely averted disasters.”
There’s no time to stop and take a breather here. A Torch Against the Night jumps right into action, starting moments after the explosive ending of An Ember in the Ashes. We start on one cliffhanger and then we end with another. Will Sabaa Tahir show me no mercy?
There was never a dull moment. Tahir wastes no time on unnecessary things. There are no fillers. Every detail, every moment, and every description, counts. Every word is important. I can hardly name a few books where every sentence/page is so necessary. And that is one of the main reasons why I loved An Ember in the Ashes.
I understand that some readers find the story to be unoriginal, but I feel like people are paying attention to the wrong things here. In a time when so many ideas are being recycled and sold as something new, should we not focus on how a book is is written, rather than what they are written about? (Which honestly I should not even have to discuss because these first two books are very original in my eyes.) My point is that Sabaa’s writing style offers a unique and refreshing perspective in this ridiculously overdone genre. It’s very impressive.
So, yeah, the writing is incredible and so are the characters. The P.O.V. changes are fantastic because Helene was a great character in Ember, and her P.O.V. chapters in A Torch Against the Night only serve to prove how kickass (and complicated) she is. I think it would be great to give Harper some narrating time as well. Fingers crossed that we learn more about him in the next book!
In regard to the plot, I really can’t say anything without ruining the story for you. There was a plot twist (or reveal, I should say) in which I straight up gasped for air and exclaimed “holyshitholyshitholyshit”. I don’t even want to say what part of the book this happened at (and it is definitely not the ending) but if you read this book, you will know. I had a feeling and BAM. Always trust your instincts, folks.
On the other hand, I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. The “decision” was right because it is so typical of the character. You can’t even question it because you know that’s what the character would always do in a situation like that. I can’t be mad about it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be sad about it either. I know I’m being vague here, but I really want to avoid spoiling anyone. I really hope this “thing” that happened proves to be the right choice in the next book. Until then, I’ll be biting my fingernails and kicking rocks in anticipation.