Title: A Torch Against the Night
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Synopsis: Elias and Laia are running for their lives. 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.
(Mostly spoiler free to those who have read the first book. I mention a couple tiny things, nothing that will ruin anything!)
Wow, where do I even start? Im so happy we got to see Helene’s perspective in this one; it made me love her even more! Laia is so fierce and determined and Elias is so strong, having to constantly make difficult choices to protect the people he loves. I definitely think by the end that he has grown, due to advice from both Mamie and Izzi, and I’m excited to see how it will shape his character into an even better version of himself in the next book!
For a while through the book I found a part of myself shipping Elias with Helene, even though I didn’t want to. Seeing things through her perspective – the memories and the bond they’ve had since they were 6 years old is so strong that it just felt so much more realistic than Elias and Laia’s relationship, even though Elias made his feelings clear. By the end I could see the change in Helene’s character enough that I’m not sure she can be that same girl anymore, so I’m back to shipping only Elias and Laia. Keenan annoyed the crap out of me for the whole book, and I was SO ANGRY when Laia said that he made her feel weak and dependant!!! It reminded me so much of the way Tamlin makes Feyre feel in A court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas (if you’ve read it then you definitely understand my hate). It is so clear that Elias compliments the strength in Laia and only encourages her to become stronger.
With the mission Helene has been tasked with, it makes me wonder whether strength is to do your duty despite the pain it may cause you, or to choose your own love and happiness over duty, despite the consequences. What do you guys think??
All in all, this book was amazing, with a lot more action than the first book, and so many wonderful new characters being introduced! I strongly feel that the third book will be a huge turning point for all of the characters and I’m so excited for where it will take them!!!