Series- An Ember in the Ashes #2
Genre- Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Synopsis- 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.
My Review- It is so very hard for me to review this book. I absolutely loved An Ember in the Ashes and fell in love with Elias and Laia within a couple of chapters. The higher powers surrounding them who already knew of the future sending them on a complicated path of self-discovery, torture and worse.
Then this book comes along and made me excited, worried, then a little bored in the middle there, but then I was torn apart and heartbroken. A Torch Against the Night follows three POVs; Laia, Elias and Helene. Laia a talented Scholar girl who has such strength and bravery in her heart that Elias, The Mask, can't help but care for her and admire her...perhaps love her a little. Helene, A Mask and now the Emporer's Blood Shrike told a heartbreaking story of hunting down the man she loves deeply to kill him to save her family and gain respect from the entire Empire.
Elias swore to Laia they would travel to Kauf prison and break her brother free after discovering that her brother holds a secret that could save the Scholars from genocide at the hands of the Empire. They are hated for their weaknesses, but have a deep strength none of the Empire understand. They travel together, care for each other and offer each other strength. They compliment each other perfectly. Then there is Keenan, a Resistance fighter who Laia cares for, maybe loves a little but his love weakens her, makes her feel silly and foolish. His protectiveness hides her away from the strength that Elias gave her. Two different loves, one strong the other suffocating.
But love, or the love stories here, never really has a time and place in this book, as with the last one. It is hinted at, it is used to offer strengths in times of hardships...or to further a plot point. But there is always so much more going on for it to be the focus. The characters face horrors, tortures, death, the manipulation of creatures far more powerful than themselves. They discover a loss of control on their personal destinies.
My reasoning for not giving it a glowing 5 stars is this: I admit to skim reading a little in the middle. I adore the characters but they can sometimes remain within their own heads a little too much. My personal opinion is that the characters can not seem to settle on their feelings. I openly ship Elias and Laia so her hesitations with Keenan bugged me. Elias is such a strong character but far too hesitant with Laia and that bugged me (especially knowing what he knew about himself and her accepting it was going to happen and still wanted to remain close to him) I am unsure how Elias' new 'occupation' will allow for a growing love story between him and Laia so I feel I have lost a little hope and heart there. Though I will try to trust the author with this one. I understand a fantasy is not always about the romance but these two speak so loudly to me. I have my fingers crossed something will work.
Overall its a great book with fantastically well rounded characters that develop within themselves as the story progresses. The villains are fantastic. The Heroes are worth caring about. I look forward to book 3.