An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Every once in a while a book comes along that drags you kicking and screaming out of your reading slump and onto your sofa for hours on end unable to put it down.
An Ember in the Ashes was one of these books, this book drew me in from page one and didn’t let me go until I was finished and even then I was left wanting no needing more. The emotions this book manages to provoke in you is out of this world I spent over 400 pages not knowing if I should laugh, cry, be happy, be sad, be terrified or angry and it was utterly fantastic. Everything about this book is gripping from the sole destroying setting to the utterly captivating characters you meet along the way.
The story is told in dual perspectives. Laia is a Scholar, her people are ruled over by the Matial Empire many of her fellow Scholars are poor, enslaved and mostly illiterate. One night Laia’s brother is arrested by the dreaded Mask’s for reasons Laia doesn’t know but after watching her grandparents die and losing her parents and sister at a young age her brother is all she has left and she must embark on a dangerous mission to work with the Resistance to rescue him. The only choice she has is to become a Spy, entering the Blackcliff Military Academy as a Slave to the dreaded Commandant and risking her in the hopes that she can get the information needed to rescue her brother.
The other half of the story is told from Elias, he is a Mask but not any ordinary mask he is the son of the Commandant and he hates her and everything the academy stands for. He wants to escape, go AWOL in a sense and live his life a free man. But destiny has other plans for him and we follow him not as he makes his escape but rather as he takes part in the Trials to crown the new emperor in the hopes that he can finally make a change to his world.
Despite any similarities this books premise may have to a few other series, I don’t think any of those books has the same complexity this world and story has.
This story is brutal in every sense of the word. The character of the Commandant introduces a whole new level of pure evil into the story, with torture, rape, the abuse and death of children this story haunts you. All of these aspects left me genuinely terrified for the character lives and feeling completely helpless.
One of my favourite aspects about this book is Laia, she isn’t your typical “superhero” female protagonist. She is genuinely terrified and is going against all of her natural survival instincts to save the life of her only living relative and this aspect was a refreshing change.
In a nutshell this is one of the best books I have read all year.
** You can pick up your own copy of An Ember in the Ashes HERE **
Miss Quinny Rating (5 / 5)
Don’t forget to subscribe for regular updates and reviews