“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after.”
There is something incredibly hard about going into books that are massively loved, and I’m happy to say I now fall into this category. AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is set in a fictional world, and follows the dual perspective of Elias and Laia. Even though this book is pretty big, it flew by. Its such a faced paced book that sucks you in from the beginning. I never wanted to put it down and had to know what would happen next. This definitely did not read as a debut novel, it was incredible! I expected this to be like every other YA Fantasy that came out around the same time, but oh boy was I wrong.
I am in love with Sabaa Tahir’s writing, her prose is freaking beautiful! There is so many quotes in this book, and as you know I’m a sucker for beautiful prose. The story starts when Laia’s parents are murdered by a mask and her brother is arrested. She is left on her own with nothing, she seeks out a group called the resistance. They are skeptical of her at first until Laia explains who her parents were, in the end they agree to help her rescue her brother. But one one condition, she must enter the academy and pose as a slave to the commandant to gain inside insight on what the empire is planning.
Laia – is one of the Scholars – now ruled over by the Martial Empire, when her brother is arrested, she seeks out Resistance for help. They make a deal with her, in order for Laia to earn there trust she must enter Blackcliff Military Academy as a slave in order to spy on the Commandant. She starts off as weak, and sacred but as the book progresses she becomes stronger. Her character development was so well done.
Elias – He is the son of the Commandant, and a mask in training. He is another really complex character, he wants to live up to his destiny and please his family while on the other hand he wants to escape. He does not believe is all the methods of the empire, he was never afraid to show his feelings.
The Commandant – Is a ruthless and scary ruler, She treats everyone around her like there disposable.
Helena – She is a mask in training, she is also Elias best friend. She is strong, independent and full of fire. She’s a really complex character, truly loyal and devoted to what she believes in.
“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”
What I wasn’t expecting was how violent this book is, some scenes get pretty gory, it really doesn’t hold anything back. There is trigger warning for rape and sexual assault which I was not aware of going into this book. Even though these topics are very horrible, it showed how desperate hopeless these characters are. Laia’s treatment was awful. I was appalled over and over again by the way the slaves were treated. I loved the trials, there were done so well, and I never knew what to expect.
There is also a hint of a love triangle but it really wasn’t the focus of the novel, maybe it was have a bigger importance in the second book. Overall I really enjoyed this book and will be picking up the sequel really soon.
Trigger warnings for violence, rape and sexual assault.