A Torch Against The Night (Book #2) by Sabaa Tahir.

by - December 15, 2020



It's official. I love this series.

What an insane, brutal, and absolutely beautiful world Sabaa has created. While I still struggled with the lack of world-building and constant love triangle, the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes was everything I wanted in a follow-up novel. Sabaa continues to develop on the brutality of this world, throwing our characters into situations that constantly test their power and loyalty, especially when it comes to family.

I think the question of how far one would go for family was a key trope in this book. Sabaa constantly tested Laia's loyalty, Elias' love, and Helene's determination to save all those dear to her. All of the webs that connect our main characters seem to be linked to family, something that was clear in the previous book as well. 

In this book, we're taken on a journey; both figuratively and literally. Elias and Laia are on the run, along with some helpful side characters, ultimately increasing the stakes of this mission. The more people our two main characters grow close to, the more they have to lose. But even in that fear, they still manage to build on relationships and solidify their trust in certain partnerships.

However, like all good fantasy books, there had to be a betrayal. I have to admit, I saw the big twist coming. This kind of dulled the ending for me. I found myself waiting for this to happen instead of going into every chapter blind or ignorant. It was just so clear. I blame this on the lack of character development and the amount of time we actually spend with the main villain, which wasn't much.

This all made the second half of this book hard to get through. In fact, it took me months to drag my way through the middle section. I just couldn't enjoy the second half of the book the way it should have been enjoyed. To its credit, this minor flaw didn't remove the sheer adrenaline of finishing a Sabaa Tahir book. The last few chapters kept my heart racing and I stayed up well into the night to get it done.

I initially wasn't a big fan of Helene, something I've noticed a lot of book reviewers mention. But, to my surprise, Helene really stood out in this book. I found myself looking forward to her chapters, wondering how she would navigate the immense pressure put on her. Though I found her restraint and choices naive, I do believe she was trying her best to succeed in this heavily dominated world.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I felt like it was a strong addition to the series, which continues to solidify its place as a Young Adult Fantasy masterpiece. 

Rating: 4 stars.

Trigger Warnings: violence, war, gore, sex, rape, starvation.


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.

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