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

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A Torch Against the Night

Author: Sabaa Tahir  // Published: August 30, 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.


“Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.”

If I’ve learned anything about Sabaa Tahir it’s that her books are a complete whirlwind. A Torch Against the Night takes place right where the first book left off. I just love how things pick up in these books. There’s never a dull moment and the suspense starts from the very first page. The world building really expands in this one. We get to learn more about the Empire and more about the mythology that was introduced in the first book. The stakes are also even higher than they already were.

Sabaa Tahir loves to torture her characters (and readers). They all go through so much. They’re continuously being tested and pushed way past their limits. I adored Laia in the first book because she felt so real. Her fears and hopes and dreams. She wasn’t strong from the very beginning but she became stronger as the story progressed. I feel like she really took initiative here. She built herself up time and time again. There were times when she felt like she couldn’t do something but she always found the strength to do it. For herself and those she cared about.

“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

Elias is another one. I didn’t think I could love him even more than I already did. I love that he was different than all the other Masks around him. He fought for so much in this book. He was on the edge so many times but he was also extremely loyal. Then there’s Helene. I really can’t describe how I feel about her. There were moments in book one when I really didn’t like her but she was pushed in book two beyond your imagination. She wanted to serve but also couldn’t stand the idea of it. She was put through so many trials but she held firm in all of them. I might not love her but I definitely have respect for her.

We were also introduced to some new characters. Sabaa Tahir keeps you guessing and I was constantly thinking about what could happen next. There’s so much suspense and I can assure you that you won’t be able to let go of this book for even a second. The characters and world really demand your attention. If that wasn’t enough then so does the writing. The author has the most enticing writing style and I was hooked from the first word. I can’t recommend this series enough!

About the Author

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.


Have you read A Torch Against the Night?

13 thoughts on “Book Review | A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2) by Sabaa Tahir

  1. Ahhhh yesss!! Elias is such a sweet marshmallow, Laia is just ~amazing~, and I agree with you about Helene — I’m not her biggest fan, but I can definitely see why everyone else might be. This series is SO GOOD and your review has further convinced me that I need a reread before the last book releases in December! Great post Noura ❤️


  2. Ahhh I love her writing! I haven’t read this book yet though, but it sounds awesome! Great review!


  3. NOT. READY. TO. READ. THIS. BOOK. That is all. No jk, I need to finish my Ember reread and then start this one for like the third time. I get halfway through and then I get scared and anxious for my children and just,,, stop whoops. Anyways, loved this review Noura xx


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