A Torch Against the Night
Author Sabaa Tahir
Publisher Razorbill | 2016
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.. (from Goodreads)
This review is spoiler-freeeeeee! 🙂
“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”
Can I just start by saying that I’m not a super big fan of these covers? The ones that I have on my Kindle are the ones with people on them, which I like a little better than the ones I’ve been putting on these reviews, but still. I know I want to buy a physical copy of Ember but maybe I’ll wait to see if new covers ever get released haha.
“Laia and Elias are each other’s countermelodies. I am just a dissonant note.”
ANYWAY, I didn’t loooove this book as much as the first. I was feeling a bit let down until the last 30% which was AMAZING and turned it around a lot. I’ll say that I wasn’t thrilled to have a third POV thrown into this book, but I understood that it was necessary in order to be caught up with everything happening with the Martials. And sometimes, seeing Helene’s name at the top of a chapter was agony because I didn’t want to be taken from Laia or Elias. BUT I HAVE TO SAY that Helene grew on me by the end of this! Seeing everything that she has to go through to try and protect her family helped me understand her a bit better. And I really enjoyed her interactions with Harper. I’m interested to see where she’s gonna go from here!
“I miss that girl. That Laia. That version of myself that burned brightest when Elias Veturius was near.”
The plot moved a little slower for me in this sequel, mostly in the middle. I’m gonna throw in a disclaimer and say that this week has been kinda rough and emotional for me so I was struggling to find motivation to read this, even though I wanted to. So that might affect my interpretation of the pacing a bit. I was really happy that Laia and Elias were together because I LOVE THEM and was happy to see their relationship grow. But then they separated and I was like… shit. And then it became REALLY HARD to want to muddle through my emotions and pick it up again.
Plus, there was a lot of confusion because like, Keenan was there and being annoying and throwing wrenches into all my shipping plans! GET OUTTA HERE, KEENAN. And uhhh I really don’t want to put spoilers in here but there’s some weird shit that goes down in this book and I’m still thrown by it hahaha. But anyways, once everyone got to Kauf it started to pick up again and did not look back. IT WAS STRESS CITY. The ending took me completely by surprise and though I started to speculate a bit about a certain person’s motives towards the end, I never would have guessed what would actually happen. SHOOK. I also think that this book did a good job of furthering the worldbuilding from the first book. I definitely felt that I understood the different… deities (??) more and learned a bit more about the geography and the specific clans of people and their regions. The villains were as villainous and evil and downright garbage as ever and I just HATE them so much. I liked Afya and Gibran, and Tas and Bee, and I also enjoyed Helene’s sister (NOT Hannah, the other one. I wanna say Livvia?). SHOUT OUT TO IZZI. I LOVE YOU, GIRL!!! 😦
“So you’ve made a few bad decisions. So have I. So has Elias. So has everyone attempting to do something difficult. That doesn’t mean that you give up, you fool.”
The last part of this book really turned it around and I’d probably even say this is more of a 4.5 star than a 4, especially upon a re-read. There were a lot of fantastic Elias/Laia moments and the plot kept me guessing until the end. I will say that I’m not 1000% sure that I understand everything that happened with Elias and the Soul-Catcher, but hopefully more will be explained in the next book. I actually already have the third book downloaded to my phone, but I didn’t want this series to end so quickly so I’m making myself take a brief break before I start it. I’ll probably wait until after I get back from Orlando!