One of this year’s most anticipated books, A Torch Against the Night is a satisfying sequel to An Ember in the Ashes and better. The story continues on with Elias Veturius and Laia on the run from the tyrannical Empire and the Commandant, and on a dangerous mission to free Laia’s brother from prison. Helene Aquilla sets out to hunt Elias, her best friend, down – all for the Empire. Loyalties are test and the Commandant has something dark planned for everyone. Even the underworld…
Beautifully written – Sabaa’s writing continues to leave me breathless and sweep me off my feet, forget the knight in shining armour – Torch is more fantasy than the first book with supernatural creatures as efrits having significant roles and intertwining their stories with the main characters. We finally learn what’s so special about Laia and her brother. The character development is raw and gradual. We see the characters meet failures again and again until epiphany comes to them. So many layers and layers are added to them, making you question their allegiances.
Helene becomes an important character to me. She emerges as a person who can stand on her own compared to Ember where she’s mainly on the sidelines and Laia’s rival. She has more important things to do than pining over Elias. The villain Nightbringer has more of a presence and his role is much clearer than before. But I wish he was more threatening as the Commandant or Marcus and have more scenes.
Laia grows stronger and braver but plummets into dependence and weakness during the journey. She has doubts and feels guilt so does Elias. I’m not going into detail but wow, their complexity is just amazing. As for the Commandant, for a moment I thought she was one of the good guys because she shows vulnerability and her letting her son Elias escape…but no. She’s as manipulative and calculating as hell. The same thing with Marcus. Gods, that bastard needs to die a slow, agonising death.
The only things I don’t like are, well, spoilers. But the relationship between Laia and rebel Keenan is kind of forced. It doesn’t flow naturally like the chemistry between Laia and Elias – not that I’m bias.
Filled with action and plot twists that would have you turn the page faster than running late to work, A Torch Against the Night should be on your must-read and recommendation list.