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.
by Sabaa Tahir
Published by: Razorbill
Published Date: August 30, 2016
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Young Adult Fantasy, Dystopia, Magic Adventure
# of pages: 452
Trigger Warning: Character death, Emotional abuse, Gaslighting, Genocide, Manipulation, Rape (mentioned), Torture, Violence
“Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.”
Who’s ready for more cold brutality, twists, turns, and non-stop anxiety?
We pick up right where we left off in An Ember in the Ashes with pulse-pounding action. I have to be honest that I thought we might get a slow introduction into book 2. Maybe a bit of recap, a romantic picnic for Elias and Laia or a spa day for Helene. Nope! Tahir works her magic and gets us sailing right off the heart-wrenching, action-packed cliff of her writing (and I’m happily doing cartwheels right over the edge).
A Torch Against the Night is told in alternating perspectives between Laia, Elias, and Helene. Dare I say it was BRILLIANT of Tahir to add Helene’s perspective in book two? While I can’t get enough of Elias and Laia, adding Helene was like adding the secret sauce (#awesomesauce) we didn’t know we needed until we had it.
Let’s start with our villains (the evil is real).
Marcus – Marcus was terrible in book 1, but he outdoes himself in book 2. I mean what happened to this kid to make him so hateful? I went from hating Marcus to despising him. If I have to find a positive it’s that it’s too bad he can’t use his skills for good instead of evil because he is actually quite clever.
The Warden – To keep it short and sweet, he is an old, thin, pale, perverse little bitch who enjoys torturing and conducting “experiments” on prisoners (#sadisticbastard). Elias has to face this lunatic if he hopes to help Darin escape.
The Commandant (Keris Veturius) – On a scale between 1 (Serena Joy) and 10 (Cersei Lannister), Keris is a 15. It’s like instead of oxygen and blood she runs on brutality, violence, and power.
The Nightbringer – Simply put, he’s terrible. He’s in cahoots with the Commandant and that cannot be good. I will say that there’s something about him…(what is he really all about?🤔)
Now for our anti-villains…Laia – I know a lot of people aren’t a fan of Laia, but I really like her. She’s just a young woman raised in a violent, terrifying world. She has seen so much suffering and lost so much but she keeps fighting. She makes soooooo many mistakes in book 2 but she keeps showing up learning from those mistakes (hang in there girl).
Elias – What this poor young man goes through is gut wrenching – His heartbreak, loyalty, bravery, love, and sacrifices. As we move through this series, we are watching Elias become even more stoic and sacrifice himself for everyone else. I need to protect him at all costs (My sweet Elias #selfless).
Blood Shrike (aka Helene Aquilla) – Oh how this young woman is growing! I felt it all with her in her chapters. She has been trained to be the smart, duty-filled, killing machine she is, but her heart and love for family and friends is fighting its way through (I just love this badass violent little Blood Shrike).
Keenan – Holy Shit Keenen! I will leave it at that. (Brilliant Ms. Tahir)
Izzi – oh Izzi, dear Izzi, we love you….(Nooooooo Sabaaaaaaa, don’t do this!!!)
Harper – This should be interesting…(How can I go from kill this fucker to please don’t kill this fucker?)
Cook – What is really going on here????? (I need more now!)
Tas (sweet little lovebug) – a resilient, kind, smart Scholar boy who has spent his life as a slave at Kauf Prison being tortured, starved and who know what else at the hands of the Warden his entire life (I want to stab the Warden in the throat every time I think of Tas).
Darin aka Laia’s (hot) brother – In book 2, we find Darin in an interrogation cell where he’s kept in between experiments the Warden conducts on him (Kauf Warden sucks). But if we think Darin is out for the count, think again. There were a lot more characters to track in book 2, but Tahir made it so easy to follow each of them. A Torch Against the Night is not for the faint of heart, but it is a beautifully written story that kept me utterly engrossed from the first page to the last (#nailbiting). Secrets are revealed, hope is lost, powerful forces work against each other, friendships are tested, and love keeps fighting.
Favorite Book Quotes
“When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructive, to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.”
“This is what it means to have faith, to believe in something greater than yourself.”
“Most successful missions are just a series of barely averted disasters.”
“Your emotions make you human,” Elias says. “Even the unpleasant ones have a purpose. Don’t lock them away. If you ignore them, they just get louder and angrier.”
“Loving you is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“Go on, half-wit. Underestimate me.”
“Don’t lock yourself away from those who care about you because you think you’ll hurt them or-or they’ll hurt you. What point is there in being human if you don’t let yourself feel anything?”
“Fear gives him power,” I say. “Like feeding oil to a lamp. It makes him burn brighter. It makes him strong.”
“Willpower alone cannot change one’s fate.”
“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”
“But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”
“Fools pay attention to words in a fight. Warriors take advantage of them”
“Elias and Laia are each other’s countermelodies. I am just a dissonant note.”
“I look at you.” His response is swift, his voice low. “Even when I shouldn’t.”
“True suffering lies in the expectation of pain as much as in the pain itself.”
“The problem with greedy people, Pop once said to me, is that they think everyone else is as greedy as they are.”
“She chuckles again. “Because sane plans never work, girl,” she says. “Only the mad ones do.”
“Veturius is a Mask like the rest of us, yes. Bold, brave, strong, swift. But those were afterthoughts for him. Elias sees people as they should be, not as they are. He laughs at himself. He gives of himself – in everything he does. […] He’s the things that I can’t be. He’s good.”
“So you’ve made a few bad decisions. So have I. So has Elias. So has everyone attempting to do something difficult. That doesn’t mean that you give up, you fool. Do you understand?”
“Sometimes loneliness is a choice.”
“Few people want witnesses to their pain, and grief is the worst pain of all.”
“You are my temple,” I murmur as I kneel beside her. “You are my priest. You are my prayer. You are my release.”
“But you are not finished. You are my masterpiece, Helene Aquilla, but I have just begun. If you survive, you shall be a force to be reckoned with in this world. But first you will be unmade. First, you will be broken.”
“Family is worth dying for, killing for. Fighting for them is all that keeps us going when everything else is gone.”
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When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.
At least, he’s not a beast all the time.
As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin – and his world – forever.