An Ember In The Ashes


Photo by Addison Sherman

Rating: 3.5 stars

Fantasy books haven’t always been my thing, but after my latest read, I’m rethinking my usual preferences. Sabaa Tahir may be a new writer, but she definitely proved her talent and impressed me with her first book An Ember In The Ashes.

The book is told from the perspectives of both a commoner and a Mask — a kind of sadistic soldier. In this dystopian society, the Masks are enforcers for the Headmistress. Being a Mask is a honorable title, but main character Elias is not pleased with it. Forced to hide his true feelings about his title, Elias goes through life laughing at torture and smiling at others’ suffering.

While Elias is miserable, Laia isn’t exactly pleased with her living situation either. When Laia’s house is raided by Masks, her brother is taken away for crimes unknown to her. Desperate to get her brother back Laia ventures out on her own with a plan that is crazy enough it just might work.

Reading from two different people’s point of view was confusing at times, and honestly annoying, but eventually I got used to it. I couldn’t decide if I liked reading from Elias’ point of view or Laia’s better. Laia’s view on life had more romance in it and as a typical teenage girl I loved that but Elias’ perspective had more fighting and violence which I ate up.

When these very different lives collide the result is fantastic. Though the book was confusing at first, with the foreign world and unfamiliar terminology, it really came together around page 100. The 446-page novel was beautifully written, refreshingly original and definitely worth the read. The sequel, A Torch against the Night, is expected to come out Aug. 30.