Sep 6, 2016

A sequel to keep you on edge || A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Title: A Torch Against the Night
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: August 30th 2016
Publisher: Razorbill

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.

An advanced review copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange of a honest review as part of a blog tour.

Never have I been so thankful for the fact that I had the sequel in my shelf, ready to read, as soon as I finished the first book. Heck, I don't even go for sequels most of the time for that matter! But after finishing Ember, the burning need ( no pun intended ) to know what happens next was so intense, and I was also looking forward to know the answers of a lot of questions which the first book left unanswered. Even though Ember had a few glitches, I really enjoyed the book, especially the brutality and the characters, but Torch managed to surpass it all, and I just frankly love this book to pieces!

A Torch against the Night picks up exactly where Ember left off. Elias - a former Mask - and Laia - a former slave - are on the run, on a quest to save Laia's brother from the deadliest prison of the Empire. With the new ruthless Emperor Marcus, the vicious Commandment, Elias' best friend and the Blood Shrike - Helene and even more unexpected enemies trying to capture them, both Elias and Laia have to do everything they can to survive, and save the boy who can change the fate of the Empire.

A Torch Against the Night was just freaking fabulous! It kept up to the amazing qualities of the first book while offering so much more. More action, a faster pace, deeper characters and much more brutality and blood shed. The book was glorious overall, and it kept me on edge throughout the story.

“Perhaps grief is like battle: After experiencing enough of it, your body’s instincts take over. When you see it closing in like a Martial death squad, you harden your insides. You prepare for the agony of a shredded heart. And when it hits, it hurts, but not as badly, because you have locked away your weakness, and all that’s left is anger and strength.” 

One of my favourite things about the book is the characters. While we saw enough of Laia and Elias in Ember, I feel like we actually saw the layers of their personalities in this one, especially Elias. Elias' guilt, morality, the human in him which keeps the warrior stable and his inner battles was all perfectly portrayed in this book. As for Laia, her character developed quite a lot, and it was a treat to see her becoming a fierce and brave soul from the uncertain girl who was afraid she won't live up to her mother in the first book.

Helene. I want to hug her tightly while gazing up her in utter amazement. I loved the fact that we were able to see her side of the story, and though the book tracks the journey of Elias and Laia for the most part, this was undeniably Helene's book. Part of me was uncertain about Helene in the first book, but in this one, she just managed to make me fall in love with her. This girl is just breathtaking. She goes through so much, yet faces them all with her head held high, in a way which only Helene Aquilla can. She was the badass main character I've wanted in YA for a long time, and I can't wait to read more of her.

“But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night - if you dare to let yourself burn.” 

Old characters return, while new ones are introduced. While some of the minor characters I loved in the first book didn't have much screen time in Torch, I loved the new additions. Tas, a boy who was only there for a couple of chapters, but managed to capture the spotlight; Afya and her amazingness; Mamie Rila's quiet strength; the Warden of the Kauf - who was a rather interesting and fascinating villain; the interesting development of the Nightbringer and most of all, my fav addition, Avitas Harper, whom I really need to know more about and ship so hard with Helene #pleaseletthishappen

Unlike in Ember, where the pace and action picked up in the second half of the book, A Torch Against the Night was a neverending battlefield, from start to end. There was no time to rest, no page to take a break. It was so happening, and the action was so vivid and descriptive that I could feel the adrenaline pumping through myself as I read some of the most intense scenes. Sabaa doesn't shy away from brutality, casualties, death, grief and bloodshed. I loved how real she made the atmosphere feel, without holding anything back.

Overall, Torch was everything I wanted in a sequel, and even better than the first book. It was filled with never ending action, unflinching brutality, lots and lots of deception, betrayal, twists, emotions and awesomeness. Even if you weren't the biggest fan of An Ember in the Ashes, I would suggest to give this one a try, as it patches all those drawbacks the first book had, and delivers an enthralling experience.

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