A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT by Sabaa Tahir

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. 


Title : A Torch Against the Night
Author : Sabaa Tahir
Series : Ember Quartet (book two)
Format : hardback
Page Count : 452
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : August 30, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Wow so this took a turn.

As I read this installment I kept questioning if I had been too kind to book one; was it just my ever revolving slump mode that make me think more kindly of it? Was it really that good? I almost went to change my rating, that’s how a) convinced I was that I must’ve been too generous and b) how annoyed I was about this one. But ultimately I think it stands; book one was good. I had a good time, slump or no, and it really just is that this book just.. doesn’t remotely measure up.

Between some bizarre sideplots and elements introduced out of nowhere, with very little sense of cohesion, this was just also.. not well written? And also had poor characterizations? There were moments, of course, but ultimately this felt like it had maybe a handful of a well executed and polished chapters that were tossed into a rough draft.

And if I ever see the word “skies” again I might lose it. I hate repetition, yes, and I understand that words get overused as a touchstone but I swear I came across a single page (as in, one!) with three repeats of that word. And not just one time, but multiple times. Some chapters? At least six utterances. I would see other words, too, reused when it would’ve been more appropriate for a synonym — yes, this is picky bitch shit but it stands out. And it does not make a meh reading experience any easier. Editors : you are valuable and desperately needed. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, please up your prices, you’re worth it.

Getting through this was a chore and I was bored and frustrated pretty much the whole time. My enthusiasm for the rest of the series is incredibly diminished but we’re in it now. I just hope I can get through book three a lot faster than this one.

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