Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Muslim Shelf Space, YA Books

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir – Book Review

I adore this series so much and Reaper was absolutely amazing and I absolutely need Sky asap!

You can read my review of Ember here and of Torch here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

I listened to the audiobook and I highly recommend it! The narrators are so good and engaging and I was completely hooked!

This series gets better and better with each book! The whole time I was listening I was on the edge of my seat and I just needed to listen to just one more chapter. Sabaa takes us on a wild ride in this series and honestly I had no idea what to expect when I started this. But one thing I can say with certainty is that this series does not disappoint. It is amazing and I simultaneously need the next book right now but I am also terrified to read it.

This book starts where Torch ended with Laia and Darin finally reunited and Elias has become the soul catcher because Sabaa likes to torture us and killed him in Torch. *sobs* Helene also has a point of view in this book and we see what is happening in the empire through her.

In the first two books their stories overlapped because they were all in the same place for the most part but in Reaper all three are separate and have different journeys to take. So we see their own journey and how it affects them but also how they slowly come together at the end to give us that explosive ending that left me shook.

I absolutely love Laia’s arc throughout the trilogy from being the scared young woman we meet at the beginning of Ember to the powerful leader she becomes by the end of Reaper. One of the things I loved about her was that she was afraid and she was hesitant, it made her so much more relatable. Her strength and bravery meant even more because we know that she is also terrified and despite that she does what needs to be done to save her brother and her people.

I also loved learning more about Laia’s family especially her mother and brother and I really liked the new characters we met, especially Musa. I love Darin so much and how protective he is over Laia and also how he wants her to be true to herself rather than just become a copy of their mother. We also learn a lot more about their mother and what happened to her and it’s all so tragic and it made me hate the Commandant even more.

Elias, my deadly cinnamon roll, I love him so much. He is torn between helping those he loves and doing his duty as the soul catcher. He slowly realises that he has to fully commit to being the soul catcher and that means leaving those he cares about. I was screaming by the end, like how could Sabaa do this to him after what she did to him in Torch. Please Sabaa stop hurting him.

We also learn a lot more about the Nightbringer and why he is so intent on destroying Laia and her people and it made him even more interesting and complex. But I still hate the Commandant more than him and I really need her to die a slow painful death in Sky.

Helene is an interesting character, she is motivated by her desire to protect her sister yet she does awful things to others all to protect one person. She justifies it by saying how she is just following orders and that she has to do what it takes to protect her sister yet it doesn’t justify what she does. It is not okay to continue the oppression of a whole group of people because you are following orders. I liked how Sabaa wove this into the story and that despite Helene justifying it to herself, we as readers are told clearly that it is not okay.

I highly recommend reading these books they are amazing and have such wonderful complex characters. The world is brutal and ruthless and I absolutely cannot wait to read the last book.

Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Muslim Shelf Space, YA Books

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – Book Review

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

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Rating: 5/5

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!