Review: A Torch Against the Night

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Published by HarperVoyager on 22 August 2016
Pages: 464
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself-a mission that might destroy her, instead.

HOLY CROW, IS IT APRIL 2018 YET?! I have had this on my shelves since its release, but I loved An Ember in the Ashes so much I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Since most YA is packaged as a trilogy these days, I’ve read so many sequels that just do not live up to their predecessors. Thankfully, A Torch Against the Night suffers no such fate.

“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

Once again, this story is told from multiple perspectives: Elias, Laia, and Helene. If I had one quibble, it’s that there’s no real distinction between the three voices. They are such starkly different characters and their stories go on such different paths that I would’ve liked to have some variation between the three. That said, there was a good pace to the story and there was a rhythm that made this book hard to put down.

I didn’t really care for Helene in the first book, but she just blew me away in this one – if Tahir wanted to create a spin-off for Helene, I would read the heck out of it.  In a novel filled with fierce, complex, intelligent, powerful women, Helene stands out from the pack. My heart hurt for her and the impossible situation she was put in. This world is brutal, and Helene does what she has to to survive. The character growth that she displays in this book is incredible, and I cannot wait to see where Tahir takes her journey.

I also loved getting to see Elias’ adopted family. He has a mother who loves him, and it was so heart-warming to read. Their relationship just jumped off the page, especially when Mamie Rila started a riot to help Laia and Elias (Ilyaas!) escape the Masks.

There were some amazing secondary characters – Avitas Harper (please play a larger role in the third book), Keenan (did NOT see that coming), Shaeva (oh, sweetie), and Afya (QUEEEEEN!).

The Commander… I can’t move past it: she seems evil for the sake of being evil. It was a problem for me in the first book, and it was a problem for me in this one. Perhaps it’s because her backstory is a mystery, but I can’t tell what her motivations are, and it frustrates me. If the woman’s willing to poison her son, I want to know how she became so callous. Similarly, the Warden felt unnecessarily evil.

I did enjoy Marcus as a villain. He is very cunning and clever, and while I dislike him as a character, I enjoy him as a villain.

This book was a slow burn, but put everything into place for what will be an amazing finale in the trilogy. Tahir has taken a common YA story and turned it into something completely original and un-put-downable.

★★★★★

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