A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir: Book Review

Title: A Torch Against the Night
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Publication details: August 30th 2016 by Razorbill
Genre: Fantasy, young adult

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.

A page-turning sequel to An Ember in the Ashes.

Elias and Laia have gotten out of Blackcliff, but the journey to freedom and the truth is still far from over.

The second book follows the main characters as they try to carry out their respective missions despite the challenges and threats: Laia and Elias- to rescue Laia's brother and at the same time evade death; and Helene- to capture Elias and be loyal to the Empire, and at the same time save her family.

Reading A Torch Against the Night was an adventure. There is quite a lot happening in this book, and more interesting characters. Thankfully, the story is easy to follow. I also get know more clearly that there is a larger threat looming in their world. Though little is revealed, it makes the plot more intriguing.

The plot development from the first book to the second one is okay. I feel like things really got more action-packed with little revelations throughout the book. The plot is slowly becoming cohesive which adds a little to the 'intriguing' factor.

There's this one plot element though that kind of put me off- the seemingly love triangle. Seemingly, yes. I shall see in third book. 😁

There is also a plot twist which I didn't really see coming. However for some reason, I wasn't as surprised as I should be. But the reveal is quite big, so again, third book! Aaaah, I can't wait!

While the ending gives resolutions for the characters, it also leaves with a lot of things to look forward to in the next book. I'd especially like to know how things will go for Elias and Laia. The situation they're in is quite complicated, so I'm excited to read the third book. 😁

I liked that I was able to see changes in the characters, as the developments are quite obvious. Each of them has struggles in their missions and decisions, but in the end was able to pull through though with costs.

As for the secondary characters, I find them okay except for two. Haha! This Avitas guy intrigued me though, and I want to know his future roles in our main characters' lives.

And of course, we have the Commandant. She is still as heartless as ever, and it's intriguing to know what role she plays in this 'threat' to the Empire. I also want to know her background story, how she came to be because her character is so dark and soulless.

As mentioned in my An Ember in the Ashes book review, I liked the writing style of the author. In this second book, there is also an additional POV, Helene's, which gives a wider view of the plot apart from Elias' and Laia's.

Despite the many plot elements, I was able to follow and understand them easily. I had a good reading experience, and I did not feel bored at all.


Overall, I enjoyed reading A Torch Against the Night. It is a good fantasy, YA read and I can't wait to read the next book.

Note: I know there's a sudden cover change. And my question is whyyyyyyyy?

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California's Mojave Desert at her family's eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brothers's comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.