A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

September 7th, 2016 Kimberly Review 60 Comments

7th Sep
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
A Torch Against the Night
by Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Narrator: Katharine McEwan, Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Length: 15 hours and 9 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Narration: 4 cups

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 were 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.

Exquisitely written the audio of A Torch in the Night by Sabaa Tahir was brilliant! Click To Tweet
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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

60 Responses to “A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir”

    • kimbacaffeinate

      LOL, Danielle I feel you, I read/listen to about 250 books a year. You would think I could easily keep up..but no I am 2 books behind on Maas Throne of Glass series and have an epic tbr pile. Audio helps though, I listen while cleaning, shopping, driving etc. All those times you cannot have a book in your hand.

  1. Lizzy

    Oh gosh, everyone is flailing about this one and I have yet to read the first! Really need to get on it, haha.

  2. Lark

    This sounds incredibly intense! And it’s always so satisfying when a second book is as strong as the first. I”m glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Cyn

    Yay! Glad to hear that this was a strong sequel! I might be an odd reader out, but I didn’t love the first book so I was kind of sitting on the fence for this. But it definitely sounds like it’s worth continuing with. Happy to see you enjoyed this! Great review, Kim!

  4. Sam

    I am waiting for this one from my library. I am excited to continue with the series and am happy to see lots of positive reviews. However, I may need to recap the first book. I don’t remember a lot about it somehow.

  5. Naomi Hop

    I wanted to read An Ember in the Ashes… but haven’t got there as yet. But it’s great to see the author has done a great job in the follow up book! Good to see you enjoyed it Kimberly!

  6. Lorna

    I am happy that the second book worked so well for you! I don’t know. I don’t think this would be one for me though. It definitely would be one to wait until all the books were out!

  7. Braine

    Oh man, why am I not motivated to get into this genre some more? I’m seriously missing out of all kinds of awesome!!

  8. Michele

    I’ve seen a lot about book one, but for some reason it never ended up on my TBR. I think I’m going to need to correct that since I’m all about the fantasy right now. I just love when the sequel is stronger than the first, and there seem to be so many things about these books that appeal to me! Great review, and I love that you’re doing ratings for both book and narration — that is very helpful.

  9. Melissa (Books and Things)

    I have the first book on my wishlist and it looks like the second book will no doubt be next to it. However, noting your want… I may wait until the 3rd is out before I take the plunge. LOL I also think I may have to get these on audio!

  10. Heidi

    I have my audibook copy of the first one waiting for me to get around to listening to it. I am so behind. I am so glad that this one delivered, I hate second book syndrome. Sounds like the audibook is the way to go> I need to get moving on this.

  11. Leona

    I feel so much better now about moving An Ember in the Ashes up on my reading list now. I’d read mixed thoughts on this book since it came out so I’m glad you decided to review it.

  12. Tyler H. Jolley

    I really like that you are giving the narrator a rating in addition to the book. As you know, a narrator can really make or break book for me. 🙂

  13. Jenny

    YEAH!!!! I’d been holding off on the first one since it was up in the air for a while as to whether there would be a second book, and I’m so glad to know that you felt this second book was even stronger than the first. And yay for leaving the reader in a good place, even if there’s clearly much more to come:)

  14. Bookworm Brandee

    I’m from West Texas and I’ve lived through sand storms. Yuck! 😉 I *will* be reading (or listening) to this series, Kim. The characters sound very well developed, the prose sounds amazing, and the story sounds exciting! AND no second book slump! Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed this one so much!

  15. Melliane

    It’s great to see it’s still that good with the second novel. I remember hearing a lot about the first one, I need to try!

  16. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I don’t know how I’ll survive waiting so long for the next one. This was a tough one to get through for me. Tahir really shows no mercy, not to her characters or to her readers. But she is brilliant.