An Ember in the Ashes Review

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*This review will be spoiler free but I will make some general notes.*

“This life is not always what we think it will be,” Cain says. “You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir has been all over the book community with everyone raving about it. My take on it, it is worth the hype completely. My rating for it is a solid 5/5.

I was a little hesitant on buying it because every person seems to give any book good ratings these days and the synopsis is a little cheesy sounding. You have the Martials who enslaved the Scholars and Laia, our main female character is sent into Blackcliff where the martials are, to spy and get information that will help the Resistance set her brother free from prison. On the other hand, Elias Veturius (what a dreamy sounding name) is a martial and his only wish is to leave Blackcliff.

Although the plot sounded cheesy the book is not. It is composed of a dark atmosphere and filled with suspense that will make you keep reading. The author did a fantastic job at taking what could have been a disastrous romance novel and transformed it into one of the darkest reads I have laid my eyes on.

Throughout the book you switch between Laia’s POV with Elias’s POV. My favorite POV was Laia and then about 3/4 of the way I really enjoyed reading both equally. The novel is well over 400 pages but any shorter would have cut out fantastic details and descriptions. Tahir really went above and beyond on this novel with fantasy creatures like ghuls and jinn. She was able to intertwine all the characters, and believe me there are many. Nothing in this book felt rushed but everything did seem tense.

I did not have a favorite character. There were a few I felt very attached to like Laia, Helene, and Elias. All had strong personalities and each pursued what they wanted most. The Commandant is my least favorite because of her evil and uncaring attitude, especially towards her son. The Augurs sounded like they came from a Star Wars movie and honestly seemed pretty ugly and creepy.

There is one scene (WITHOUT SPOILERS) that had me pausing every few minutes just to take a deep breath. I sympathized and showed empathy towards the characters. I really put myself in their shoes and toward the end of this fantastic novel, I was driving myself mad. I wanted to read but had to stop and control myself. Other times my tears kept me from reading further. My heart broke. Skies, it broke me down so much in the rawest way possible.

If you want a light pretty romantic read, this is not for you. Although there is romance it is built up and isn’t an instant relationship. Thank the skies for that. This novel swallowed up my heart and soul. There’s no book that can compete with this rich, dark, and twisted novel. Sabaa Tahir is a mad genius and the book world owes her.

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