I actually loved this book even more as a reread than I did when I first read it! I also reread as an audiobook which was amazing!
You can also read my review for An Ember in the Ashes here
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
This story starts where the last book ended with Laia and Elias are trying to escape Blackcliff Academy and Helene has become Blood Shrike and must now hunt them down. In Torch we also get to see Helene’s point of view which was really interesting as through her we get to see what’s happening outside of Laia and Elias trying to save Darin.
I loved the audiobook so much, we have three different narrators for each point of view and they were all so engaging. I highly recommend listening to this series!
This book is quite different to Ember in that we actually explore different parts of the world as Laia and Elias travel to Kauf. In Ember we stay in Serra and a lot of our time is spent in Blackcliff Academy so it was really great to see other parts of the world that Sabaa has created. We saw how different each place is, from climate to who tends to live there and even how they live.
My love for Laia and Elias grew even more in this book, Laia has overcome so much to get to where she is, she is determined and fierce and perseveres through all the difficulties despite being afraid and that shows true courage. She cares deeply and is kind and gentle and knows how to help others when they are struggling. I loved seeing how much she grew in this book. She is torn between Keenan and Elias for different reasons. Her learning to trust her gut and instincts was an important part of her journey and it was great to see her growth. I also loved her friendship with Izzy and how they know each other so well despite not having known each other that long.
Elias my deadly cinnamon roll! He has had everything taken from him and his own mother wants him dead and yet he still fights. He fights for justice, he fights for a better world and for Laia. Despite being trained as a lethal weapon his whole life he still knows that what he has been trained to do is wrong and is haunted by the ghosts in his head of those he was forced to kill including his friends. He spends most of the book close to death and much weaker physically as a result of that and it was interesting seeing him deal with that and adapt because of that. He also spends much of the book half in the world of the dead where he meets the soul catcher and makes a deal that will change his life forever.
I enjoyed seeing Helene’s point of view even though she was annoying at time but I loved seeing how determined and fierce she was and how much harder she had to work being a woman in a world inhabited by men who had little respect for women. She is driven by her need to protect her family and I really felt for her when her family were held hostage to control her. It was interesting to see her thoughts as being with Elias growing up she saw that Laia’s people were treated unjustly and oppressed and that he said it was wrong yet she constantly justifies it. The subtle racism that Sabaa showed through Helene was so well done.
It was also interesting seeing Dax and Faris who were working with Helene and had also been really close to Elias and how they had to put their feelings aside. We were also introduced to Harper who was a spy for the Commandant yet there is more to him than we first see.
The story itself was so interesting and we learn so much about what is happening and why Laia’s people are oppressed and how it happened. We get the history of the world through stories that Laia and Elias tell each other and are told to them. I loved seeing the tribes and Elias’s family before he was taken to Blackcliff. I also loved seeing Darin and learning some more about him.
I am so excited to read Reaper especially as the last book will be out later this year!