A Torch Against the Night Review

A Torch Against the Night
Sabaa Tahir
Penguin Random House/Razorbill
August 30, 2016
464 pages
Rating-4/5I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book at BookCon 2016.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir is the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes. In my opinion, this book was not quite as breathtaking as the first book, but I still found it enjoyable. It was gritty, entertaining, and suspenseful. I believe A Torch Against the Night was a successful and satisfying sequel.

In A Torch Against the Night, Laia and Elias are running away from the Empire to liberate Laia’s brother, Darin, from one of the most secure prisons, Kauf. The trip to Kauf is not an easy one, but Elias is determined not to leave Laia’s side. Elias is now one of the Empire’s most wanted criminals, and his former best friend and the current Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilles, must hunt and kill him. Elias, Laia, and Helene all have struggles that seem impossible to overcome, but failure could have deadly costs.

At the end of An Ember in the Ashes I was impressed by Laia and her character development. In A Torch Against the Night, however, she was not the same amazing character that she was in the first book. She was not as smart, capable, or confident. Instead I found her to be needy, oblivious, and naive. Another character that was not as well written as she was in the first book was the Commandent. In An Ember in the Ashes, she terrified me. She was so evil, yet so real and believable. In A Torch Against the Night, her character felt two dimensional, flat, and unbelievable. I was never scared of her. She felt like just another villain. A character that I liked more in the sequel than in the first book was Helene. I was not a fan of Helene in An Ember in the Ashes, but I adored her in this book. I thought she was stronger

I thought the setting and the world added to this story. For me, you can’t go wrong with alternate historical time periods. The world in this book was interesting. I thought the characters’ dialect added to the world and characters. The writing style was also very appropriate for the plot and setting. One problem I had with the world was that I didn’t feel like the supernatural creatures were fully fleshed out. By the end of the book, I still didn’t know what efrits or jinns were, or what Laia’s power exactly was. But other than that, the world was enchanting, sinister, and terrifying. I truly would never want to live in the grim society Sabaa Tahir has created.

The violence in An Ember in the Ashes walked a fine line between entertaining and unpleasant, and it was something I really enjoyed. Sabaa Tahir truly doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Her writing is raw and ruthless, something I love. But A Torch Against the Night tripped into being brutal and unpleasant sometimes. Some scenes, like when Elias was in Kauf, just made me uncomfortable instead of making me sit on the edge of my seat. However, I did think the fight scenes were very well choreographed.

A major theme in this book was hope. “As long as there is life, there is hope.” I think the brutality supported the theme. No matter what happened to Laia and Elias, they usually had hope because they were alive. And Laia and Elias suffered a fair amount.

Overall, I think this was a very strong sequel to An Ember in the Ashes. It had a well developed world, twists at every corner, and characters you will think about long after the last page. If you enjoy Young Adult fantasy, I recommend An Ember in the Ashes as well as A Torch Against The Night. If you do decide to pick up this book, I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Please check out my review to An Ember in the Ashes if you would like my full thoughts on the first installment in this series.

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