Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Dystopian, Fiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “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 new 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.”
Review: I ended up really enjoying A Torch Against the Night! While my primarily complaint in An Ember in the Ashes was that Laia wasn’t as strong of a character as Elias, I felt like she really came into her own in A Torch Against the Night. As she works on discovering and honing her newfound skills, she gains a confidence that she sorely lacked in An Ember in the Ashes; whereas Elias was the sole rescuer in the first book, now Laia emerges as a strong, capable, and intelligent heroine. As another plus, the love triangles that made me so angry in An Ember in the Ashes were mostly removed from this second novel, which facilitated a greater focus on other relationships in the story, including the friendship between Laia and Izzi. While the concept behind Tahir’s books doesn’t exactly scream uniqueness, I think her real gift as an author lies in storytelling. She is also an accomplished world-builder, which allows the reader to really immerse themselves in the story. The plot is extremely well-paced and this second novel benefited from the inclusion of Helene’s perspective. The plot twist wasn’t as much of a twist as I might have liked (there were almost too many clues and hints given along the way), but I didn’t find myself frustrated by it like I do in so many other books with supposed “twists.” All in all, I’m definitely glad I read this novel and am looking forward to the third and fourth installments.