Book Review:: An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

IMG_2282Date started: August 17, 2016

Date ended: August 25, 2016 

Stars: ★★★★★


“You are full, Laia. Full of light and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes.”

Holy goodness! What a whirlwind! I need it to be Tuesday so I can go get A Torch Against the Night.

I think a lot of people will agree with me when I say only the best books evoke the strongest emotions from the reader. Every book that is my favorite makes me feel something, whether it’s fear, loathing, anger, love, passion, etc. It’s intense whatever the feeling. An Ember in the Ashes made me feel all these things.It is a novel that will transport you body and soul to a place and a time you hope will never exist.A novel that makes your breath catch, your heart pound, afraid for your own life, a book that you lose sleep over and don’t care why you’re so tired the next day. That is what An Ember in the Ashes was to me.

This fast-paced story is told from two perspectives. Laia is one of the Scholars who are a free people though ruled over my the Martial Empire but many are poor, illiterate and even enslaved. At the start of the novel, Laia’s brother, Darrin, is arrested and the rest of her family is murdered, she seeks out the Resistance (a rebel group against the Empire) for help. However, they will not help her for free and demand that in return she must enter Blackcliff, a military academy, as a slave to the Commandant, the most hated and ruthless woman in the Empire, and spy on her for them. Elias – the bastard son of the Commandant – makes up the other perspective in this book.

This book is evil. This world is dog eat dog world. There are no good guys, only less bad guys. You can’t trust anyone. Not the Martial Empire, not the Resistance. It reminds me of ancient Rome and Gladiators. That’s kind of the background setting I pictured in my mind. No one is innocent. The Commandant is a complete sociopath. Bitch doesn’t even encompass what she is. She is evil personified, there is no room for pity. Even when she told her story about why she is the way she is, I couldn’t feel sympathy for her simply because of what I knew she had done. There’s even more that I don’t know! In this world, the norm is torture, abuse, and rape. The stakes are higher; your life or death hang in the balance of a thread. Everytime Laia was sneaking and spying on the Commandant, I couldn’t breathe because I knew she would be caught.

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I enjoyed everything about this book. I liked the varied cast of characters and that Laia wasn’t a typical badass heroine (Helene was bad ass enough for all the main characters) but simply a scared girl going against her every instinct to save her family. It’s an instinct that I can definitely relate too. I loved the use of prophecies and creatures of myth, they add a different dimension to the book and enhance its allure. I love the complexities of the love triangles (or should I say square? Rectangle?). They are not the quintessential love interests, which fit in the environment that they are placed. I can’t wait to see where A Torch Against the Night leads us. An Ember in the Ashes is a great read and I can see why people are eating it up and being desperate for more, I know I sure am!


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