Overview (No Spoilers):
When glancing at Tahir’s book tour schedule, of which no author comes to Michigan, I noticed that she was doing an event in Seattle where my younger brother lives. Samuel generously humors my book obsession, and agreed to get a signed book for me, as well as getting my copy of An Ember in the Ashes signed. Little did Samuel and his roommate Tim know, they were in for a three hour event without even having read the books! Needless to say, I’m a very lucky sister. Samuel really enjoyed the event, saying Tahir was very funny, to the point that he has even started to read the series.
I was incredibly impatient, waiting for Samuel to send me my beautiful signed copy of A Torch Against the Night, as such I tore into the package when it finally arrived and promptly dove in. Tahir’s follow up novel picks up mere moments after the first one leaves off with Laia and Elias frantically trying to escape the city. This book is made up of chapters switching perspectives between Laia and Elias as before, with the addition of Helene’s perspective. I was eagerly anticipating hearing perspectives from another strong female lead, however her sections were typically painful at best. Her character is growing and evolving, but alas she is stuck in the mud with regard to her loyalty of the Empire. She struggles with choices that deep down she feels are right, in contrast to the actions a loyal, obedient subject and Blood Shrike should do. Elias and Laia battle against the odds to save her brother with the help of Keenan and Izzi. Overall, this book is very dark, with a massive genocide being carried out by Elias’ mother, Helene being given two seemingly impossible choices, with heartbreaking consequences, and Elias facing inescapable death throughout. Despite the seeds of hopelessness strewn throughout this sequel, I loved the direction Tahir took the series and could not put down the story, leading to several very late nights. I can’t wait to read what the next book will have in store for our brave heroes.
Additional Insight (Spoilers abound):
- Who is this Cook? How does she appear so magically inside Helene’s window/rooms and disappear so quickly? Why is she helping Helene to find Elias? And why is she so protective of Laia? What if the Cook is Laia’s disfigured mother? Just a thought.
- So Keenan was the Nightbringer this whole time? Elias’s mother and the Warden of Kauf both make a comment that the Nightbringer has been missing for some time. I was a little confused by this because Laia and Helene had both seen him with Elias’ mother, even though he had been ‘Keenan’ since Keenan was five years old. If he could change shape to meet with the Commandant, why did he go missing? Couldn’t he have stuck off at night when he was with Elias and Laia to go to meet with his lackeys and be back before he was missed?
- Poor, poor Izzi! I didn’t understand Laia’s joy at seeing her again because Keenan had disregarded Laia’s wishes to see Izzi safe and brought her back into the thick of danger.
- Elias was facing certain death due to poisoning at the hands of his mother. As such he makes several trips to the Forest of Dusk, where he meets the jinn, Soul Catcher. As he becomes more acquainted with the Soul Catcher, he learns her story and how she betrayed the Nightbringer and he subsequently punished her by making her eternally help the dead pass on. Elias is able to cheat death by volunteering to take her place. How will he be able to help Laia or Helene from his now anchored position? He always wished for freedom and he was so close, but alas now he is eternally trapped.
- I cringed so much with Keenan’s character! I was so annoyed that Laia was falling for him and eventually slept with him. Did Elias mean nothing to her? And she gave her most prized possession to Keenan, which was exactly what he was after. However, kudos to Tahir for characters in a YA novel actually having sex before the last novel. Interestingly, how was Laia able to force her way into the mind of the Nightbringer? Who is she? Why is she able to disappear?
- Marcus killing Helene’s family was absolutely heartbreaking! It felt as though be showing Elias’ mother’s betrayal that she would be spared from hunting Elias and saving her family. Apparently Marcus knew all along, and the Commandant successfully feigned innocence leading to the slaughter of Helene’s family. All of the tears! How will she escape this monster? Also, why hasn’t Marcus touched her? What voice did he appear to be hearing? Is it indeed Zac?
- I really liked the Mask, Harper’s character and was absolutely shocked when we find out that his half brother is Elias. I want to know more! Why did the Commandant help him through school but hinder Elias?
- When will Elias’ Grandfather make another appearance?