a torch against the night

Title: A Torch Against the Night

By: Sabba Tahir

Review by: Maddy

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A Torch Against the Night should have been named A Torch Against My Heart, because after reading this book all that was left of it was was a pile of ashes. If you can get through this book without shedding a single tear than I commend you, because I certainly did not. Sabaa Tahir somehow managed to make me feel the entire spectrum of human emotions in 500 pages and I loved every tear stricken minute of it.

As the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, this book had a lot to live up to. The complexity of the story laid down in the first book came to a crescendo in the second.  Every minor detail from this rich world was explored and brought back to create plot twist after plot twist. A good writer can write a compelling story, but a master writer can write a story where everything has a purpose and the entire story is made of layers and layers of buildup and tension. Sabaa Tahir is a master writer.

But what is a good story without even better characters? Elias and Laia go on their journey to save her brother while Helene tries to save the empire as her life’s crumbles around her. Not only do their characters blossom and grow with the realness of any person, but their struggles feel like they belong to your sister or your brother. Along with them, you also get to meet and grow unfairly attached to many new characters that end up being stars themselves. Even the bad guys make you feel bad for them, and make you want redemption arcs like never before. Being ripped away from their world and the characters when the book was done was ALMOST as sad as the book itself, in the best possible way.

However, falling in love with these characters has its drawbacks. Especially when Sabaa Tahir’s love of KILLING PEOPLE isn’t the worst part. Remember that pile of ashes?  That comes from a book that’s 20% happiness, 30% action, and 50% leave those poor characters alone! It would not surprise me if George R.R. Martin and Sabaa Tahir were best friends, because death and despair seem to be her go tos. Before you start A Torch Against the Night, get a box of tissues.

Despite all of that, the worst part of this amazing book is that I don’t see how it can be topped in the next one. But then again, that’s exactly what  thought after the first book. If Sabaa Tahir can do it once I’m sure she can do it again. So as I rebuild my heart, I begin the wait for the next book that will surely break me again. But, for this kind of storytelling, it will be well worth it.

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