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

a-torch-against-the-night-sabaa-tahirA Torch Against The Night
(An Ember in the Ashes #2)

By Sabaa Tahir

Hardcover, 452 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Razorbill
Average Rating: 4.44

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance (Do I even bother?!)
POV: First Person (Elias, Laia & Helene)
Cover Love: So much love for the cover
Rating: 4/5 stars

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.

four star

It breaks my heart to rate this book below five stars. It just completely ruins me that I didn’t love this book as much as I would have liked to. All because of one little, tiny flaw in this otherwise amazing novel. A flaw that made me deduct one full star.

*sad sigh*

I told myself that I wouldn’t make it a big deal but alas love triangles are by no means necessary. I see them as a form of literary manipulation and I absolutely hate them with a passion.

Why Michelle, could you further explain? Gladly.

I present you the Laia/Elias/Keenan love triangle. -.-

Out of those three, the only person I didn’t hate one single bit was Elias. I loved Elias in this novel. He was moving, complex, and brave. I couldn’t have ask for a better character arc for him. I 110% enjoyed his chapters. My heart hurt for him. We learn more about his time with his clan, and what the Augurs hinted at his destiny. We get to witness the struggle with who he is and what he feels for Laia with no restraints. It was absolutely mesmerizing to read.

Laia nods. “I could smell it. The storm.” She glances back. “Reminds me of you.”

I try to work out whether this is a compliment or not but then give up.

Laia on the other hand? Sadly, I couldn’t say the same. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to read what was in store for her. She went through some significant character development at the end of Book 1 and I had a billion questions about her walking into Torch. I witnessed her character developing in the first pages of the novel and at the end. The middle of Torch held no progress whatsoever. NONE. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. And from the very start it looked so promising and good!! When Elias and Laia escaped, Laia rose to the occasion and becomes the courageous woman I know she can be when [highlight for spoiler] Elias gets poisoned. Then freaking Keenan joins her mission to save her brother and things went downhill real fast for me.

Not only did Torch allow Laia to make the stupidest mistakes regarding Keenan and Elias, her character was underdeveloped. I was seething for almost a third of the novel as a result of this. It was liked we went back ten steps in comparison to the five steps we took at the beginning. I didn’t like Laia’s lack of development, Keenan’s secretive ways, and their oh-so-amazing romance that could have been taken out of the whole novel except for this one tiny detail about the traitorous Keenan. Thank god, this novel ended in the perfect place for Laia’s character as she somewhat made up for the horrific block she had in the middle.

My emotions were played with and I did NOT appreciate it one bit. I’m not against turmoil while reading novels, I like the rollercoaster feeling that comes along with reading amazing books but this totally crossed a line for me. Could I be taking this too seriously? Absolutely. But as the reader, I needed reassurance and a certain event [highlight for spoilers] Laia having sex with Keenan  happened and I couldn’t forgive Sabaa for it. (I do see why she had to go in that direction for plot purposes but it didn’t help that she lost points for engagement. That scene was just the last straw for me.) I’m so torn because my analytical mind keeps reminding me why Sabaa had to do what she did, but the reader, the fangirl, is just angry and upset.

Needless to say, those were the only problems I had with the book: Laia’s choppy character development and her one very stupid, very painful decision. Everything else was true Sabaa Tahir fashion and everything I wanted after An Ember in the Ashes. That debut wasn’t just a flunk, and Torch gave us a jaw-dropping storyline. The writing was smooth and flawless; I love how we explored more of the Empire world: the clans, the Resistance, the world outside of Blackcliff, and the growing integration of fantasy in these books. We get a bittersweet ending, and there was a much needed Elias and Laia moment that I will reread over and over again as I wait for the release of Book 3 in the series. The love triangle is also abolished at the end!!! Thank the lord almighty. (If it even reappears in Book 3, I might jump off a cliff. Or promptly throw the book across the room)

“You’ve been gifted.” The man sounds mildly surprised of his voice. “A healing power. The efrits woke it. I smell it. The blue and white of winter, the green of first spring.”

But do you know what met and went beyond my greatest expectations?! Helene’s POV. I loved LOVED her point of view. Her story, her character, her purpose in this story. Everything was perfect. I loved her conflict with her vow to Marcus as Blood Shrike but her unwavering yet betraying loyalty to Elias. Helene gets the classic good versus evil character arc and it was evolved beautifully throughout the novel.

There were so many heart stopping moments I felt like my heart was going to go into cardiac arrest at times. I was so in tune with the characters and the story (most of the time) that my emotional state soared and dipped from glee to utter terror.

A Torch Against the Night is a required read. You can only expect the best writing and plot from Sabaa Tahir. You will gasp, coo, and pale in horror while muttering nononononononono like you’re a broken record. Although there was a slight bump in the road, I closed the book notably satisfied. It is hard not to love this novel.

I will definitely be rereading this book and hope that I have a better experience the second time around. 🙂

Have you read A Torch Against the Night yet??? What did you think of it?!? Do you agree or disagree with what I’m saying? 


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