Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Awe of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

This book blew me away. And it’s been many months since a YA fantasy book has impressed me this much, especially in the case of a debut. Kudos to Sabaa Tahir!


Series: An Ember in the Ashes series, Book 1

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Violence, Romance

Format: Audiobook, narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West

Rating: 5 stars!


Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


This book blew me away. And it’s been many months since a YA fantasy book has impressed me this much, especially in the case of a debut. Kudos to Sabaa Tahir! I absolutely cannot wait for the next one (A Torch Against the Night, to be released on April 26th, 2016) to come out!

What drew me to this book was the Roman Empire historical reference, not to mention the beautiful cover art. While the Roman theme was not the main point of the story, and was disguised with different names for things, it was in there enough to make me happy and as soon as I got into the story I clean forgot about that initial wish and just fell in love with the book as a whole.

I’m not normally a fan of split-narrator books. But the author’s writing style and the narrators’ reading performances completely changed my mind. I honestly wanted more 1st person perspectives — from Helene, Izzi, and most importantly, Darin.

That is one of the only criticisms I have of this book — I didn’t feel Laia’s love of and loyalty to her brother as much as she did, which sometimes made it difficult to understand her intense feelings. I personally love my sister enough to go through torture for her (although not doing anything of the sort would be preferable of course), but I needed more proof from Laia besides just her assertions.

But boy oh boy was this book exciting, romantic, violent, adventurous, dark, and overall amazing. I’d recommend it for lovers of the following: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Shadow and Bone (series) by Leigh Bardugo, Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Young Elites by Marie Lu (if you, unlike me, liked this book), and Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. Any other recommendations from fellow reader/lovers of this book?


2 comments on “Gwen’s Awe of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

  1. Yvo
    November 4, 2015

    So good to hear you loved this one! I have it on my November TBR, and I’m definitely even more excited to be finally reading it now. Great review!

  2. Pingback: Gwen’s Recent (and Not So Recent) Reads | Gwen & Kate's Library

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This entry was posted on November 4, 2015 by in Author: Gwen, Favorites, Review, Young Adult and tagged , , .
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