by Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Published by: Penguin
Narrator: Katharine McEwan, Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Length: 15 hours and 9 minutes
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Narration Rating: 4.5
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.
Nothing makes me happier than a stronger second book in a series and such was the case with A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. This is the second novel in young adult dystopian fantasy series An Ember in the Ashes. (Which ironically was standalone, then duology and now there are two more books in the works) Brilliant, fast paced and exquisitely written the audio narrated by Katharine McEwan, Fiona Hardingham and Steve West was completely addictive.
“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”
The wait for A Torch Against the Night seemed painfully long, but Tahir rewarded readers with an emotionally charged tale that had me holding my breath. The story is dark and filled with impossible quests, gut wrenching twists as you root for these characters. Her Roman type dystopian world is bloody and oppressive. We witness genocides, deception, ruthless killings and more.
The first tale had two POV’s those of Elias and Laia, but in A Torch Against the Night Tahir introduced Helene’s narrative and it was bloody brilliant. Helene has become Blood Strike, and her story at times stole the show. She is given the impossible task of capturing and killing Elias. Elias and Laia are on a quest to rescue her brother Darin. Their quest is filled with danger and discoveries. Tahir delivered an addictive story with twists, turns and betrayals. At times I could do nothing more than stop in place, hold my breath and listen.
“But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”
Saab Tahir continued to flesh out the world, giving us a firmer grasp of the hierarchy, political climate and supernatural elements of this world. Laia continues to surprise, and I am curious about her ultimate role as this story continues.
Tahir’s writing is vivid and her prose like musical notes to my ear. Not only did she capture the emotions of each character she brought each scene to life. As Elias and Laia traveled a sandstorm kicked up, and she allowed me to experience it. I could taste the sand and hear the relentless wind. We travel through villages and forests as we make our way towards the prison. Along the way, we learn more about the characters face Helene’s pursuit and pick up allies. It was intense and Tahir did not spare our feelings as she conjured up this brutal world.
“It takes only a split second for life to go horribly wrong. To fix the mess, I need a thousand things to go right. The distance from one bit of luck to the next feels as great as the distance across oceans. But, I decide in this moment, I will bridge that distance, again and again, until I win. I will not fail.”
Tahir’s writing lends itself perfectly to audio and the narrators certainly enhanced my experience. I adore Fiona Hardingham accent and it lends itself perfectly for the voice of Laia. Steve West brings Elias to life. I particularly loved Katherine McEwan’s rendition of Helene. I felt she captured Helene’s insecurities and struggles. At this point I cannot imagine enjoying this series any other way.
A Torch Against the Night left me bloody and spent. While it leaves the reader in a good place, this tale is far from over and I am eager to return. The next audiobook has yet to be titled and has an expected release of 2018. Hurry, Tahir, please hurry.
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