A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #2) / My rating: ★★★★1/2
One sentence summary: Laia and Elias begin their journey to Kauf Prison to free Laia’s imprisoned brother from the Martial Empire, and Helene must capture Elias and execute him.
“I thought you told me you loved stories. Have you ever heard a story of an adventurer with a sane plan?”
“And why do you think that is?”
I am at a loss. “Because…ah, because-“
She chuckles again. “Because sane plans never work, girl,” she says. “Only the mad ones do.”
Genre: Young adult/Fantasy
Plot: HOLY COW. I really liked the first book in this series, An Ember in the Ashes, but I loved this one. A Torch Against the Night has a different kind of rhythm than the first book, but I think what makes it work so well is that it literally takes off from where the first book began. I simply jumped right back in and we immediately got rolling.
If you read my review of the first book, you may recall how I dug into it about my dislike of its love triangles. Well, I just need to say that I SEVERELY underestimated Sabaa Tahir’s plotting abilities, because those came to a fantastic head in A Torch Against the Night that went far beyond the bounds of simple romance and attraction. In fact, it was my favorite plot twist of the book, and this was a book full of great twists. If An Ember in the Ashes didn’t shy away from heartbreak, A Torch Against the Night was ten times worse, and I loved it. Sabaa Tahir lives up to her promises, that is for sure.
If there is one thing about these books that still generates little interest for me, however, it’s the romance. I just don’t care about the characters kissing each other. I like emotional build-up, and this series is full of a lot of physical build-up. Still, it didn’t irk me as much as in the previous book, mostly because the characters grew and developed not just individually, but together. The heart of this series really revealed itself more clearly in this book, and that, along with the developing fantasy aspect, is what I really loved this book for. I very much look forward to the third book in this series when it comes out.
Characters: I loved the character development in this book. My heart grew ten sizes bigger for each of the main three characters- Laia, Elias, and Helene. I really liked Laia’s development, and was a much bigger fan of hers in this book than in the last. However, it annoyed me at times that her impulsiveness led to conflict that I felt could otherwise have been avoided. The plot could have been slightly tighter if it didn’t sometimes rely on this (i.e. there is a scene where she stops to fake tying her shoe to overhear a conversation, while she had OTHER VERY PRESSING matters to attend to in the immediate moment). Is it terrible of me that I sometimes just wanted her to do the smart thing rather than the noble thing? (Well, I did). Still, I loved what Laia discovers about herself and what she can do in this book, and she’s developed so much since the beginning of An Ember in the Ashes.
I also loved Elias’ journey in this book- it was something I couldn’t have expected at all, something that really delves into the fantasy aspect of this series. It was fantastic, and I love Elias so much more now. My favorite, however, is still Helene. In An Ember in the Ashes, the book is told from the point of views of Laia and Elias, and in this book we also get Helene’s point of view, which, consequently, were my favorite parts to read. She is one tough lady, and I love the war between her duty and her heart, and how the price she pays for it is dire. I am terrified and very excited to see where the events of this book take her next.
Writing: My opinion on the writing is basically the same as it was in my An Ember in the Ashes review. Not really my preferred style to read, but still quality writing and it suites the story!
Was I satisfied? Yes! Much more so than the first book. Sabaa Tahir really proved to me that she lives up to the story she’s selling, and I loved it.