An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)


Rating: 5 Stars
Published: April 2015
Genre: YA // Fantasy
Favorite Quote: 

“Fear can be good, Laia.  It can keep you alive.  But don’t let it control you.  Don’t let it sow doubts within you.  When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible, to fight it: your spirit.  Your heart.”

Elias is enrolled in the best military academy to become a solider in the Empire army.  But not just any solider, a Mask: the most ruthless of them all.  What no one knows, not even his best friends, is that the night after graduation, he plans to escape & run away from everything that he knows. Meanwhile, Laia’s family has been murdered & her brother thrown in prison for treason by none other than, the Masks. In order to free her brother, she needs to join the Scholar’s Resistance. According to them, to free her brother, she must be a spy and become a spy in the headmistresses’ household.  Both Elias and Laia are no longer free and how their lives intersect will determine both their fates.

Wow. My mind is reeling and I desperately want more.  It took me a little while to get into it because I had hardly any time to read when I first picked it up.  I’d read a chapter here and there but I was pretty disinterested at first. Boy, do I wish I just had time to sit down and read it all at once.  Once I had more time to read, I flew through this.  I couldn’t put it down! There was never a dull moment for me.

What a beautiful, heart-wrenching book.  I cannot say enough good things about it. This is one of those books that comes along once in a good while that you honestly need to stop what you’re doing and pay attention.

“But there are two kinds of guilt, girl: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”

The world-building was incredible. There was a ton of things going on and I just wanted to immerse myself more into this incredible world (though, I would never want to live in it).  The characters are so diverse and there are so many of them! I loved getting glimpses into many different parts of the world & the people that inhabit it.  The details that went into every character, no matter how small were mind-blowing.  It felt like I knew everyone.  I could see them, and hear them. They were real.  The imagery of the scenery was amazing.  I could picture everything that was happening.  That takes real talent to have that feeling be seamless with the rest of the book.

I think my favorite scene was when Laia snuck off to the Moon Festival.  Everyone felt so free and it conquered images of swirling colors, laughing, smiling faces, and the beautiful swish of skirts as couples danced and danced.  It was a stark contrast to the rest of the novel but it was important scene to show what they were fighting for.

Sabaa Tahir has a lovely handle on the use of language.  I want to get lost in her words and swim among the pages.  She knows just what to say and exactly when to say it.  This complex world and story was made possible because of her attention to details, her way with words and the images & feelings they conjure.

“It will get better,” Keenan says.  I look up to see sadness flicker across his face, almost instantly replaced by that now-familiar chill. “You’ll never forget them, not even after years.  But one day, you’ll go a whole minute without feeling the pain.  Then an hour.  A day.  That’s all you can ask for, really.” His voice drops.  “You’ll heal. I promise.”

This is one of my favorites of 2015- I know I have a lot but let’s be real, it’s among good company. I cannot wait to read the sequel to this novel. But more importantly, I cannot wait to see what else she has up her sleeve waiting to be written.

Have you read An Ember in the Ashes? Did you love it as much as I did? Or was it not for you?Share your thoughts below!


2 thoughts on “An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)

  1. This was such an awesome debut novel, I loved it as well – like you my favourite part was the Moon Festival for the richness of the prose and details in the culture. I’m very excited for the next book, especially as Sabaa Tahir is considering a POV for Helene who I love!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I heard about that! That would be really cool if she did a POV for Helene because there were so many times during this novel that I wished I knew what she could possibly be thinking.


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