“Curse this world for what it does to the mothers, for what it does to the daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure.”
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House
Released June 2018
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Read my reviews of the first two books in this series:
This is the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, following the stories of Laia, Elias, Helene, and more. The ruthless Keris Veturia is still up to something, and the Nightbringer is getting closer to his nefarious goals.
Review (SPOILER WARNING!!!!!)
The An Ember in the Ashes series has quickly become one of my favorites. I felt the widest range of emotions possible as I read this third book in the series, and I don’t know how I’m going to survive until the fourth book is out, which doesn’t even have a release date yet!
I’m including spoilers in this review because it’s impossible not to. If you haven’t finished A Reaper at the Gates yet, or (gasp!) you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night, bookmark this page and come back to it once you’ve read them. This is the kind of book where you want to be surprised and shocked at the twists and turns that take place.
First of all, we have a new narrator in this book: the Nightbringer. It was fascinating seeing his side of the story, and I hope that his narratives are much more prevalent in the next book. I enjoy complex antagonists, and he’s definitely turning out to be that. In addition, it was interesting having a non-human narrator.
Since the first moment Laia and Elias met in the first book, I’ve wanted them to end up together, safe and living a sweet, quiet life. Of course, because this series is all the pain, we don’t get that. By the end of the book, Elias fully becomes the Soul Catcher, and the last encounter he and Laia have was too much for my fragile heart to take, and when she gave him back the wooden armband he made for her, my heart literally shattered into a million pieces.
The real star of this entire book is Helene, aka the Blood Shrike. I never disliked Helene as a character in the first two books, but neither did I love her; she was just sort of… there. In A Reaper at the Gates, however, she really comes into her own and shines. So much of the story is centered on the increasingly difficult choices she needs to make, and she’s torn between following Marcus’ orders to save her little sister and doing what’s best for the empire. We learn how much she cares for her people, and not just the Martials, but everyone. One of my favorite moments in the book is when she finally puts an end to Marcus – it was such a powerful scene and no one deserved to kill him as much as she did.
A criticism I had about the book was that for the first half, it can be a little disorienting. We’re constantly in different locations, with different characters, and there’s a lot going on. I’ve always been a fan of multiple narratives, but there were a few times while reading this that I felt it may be too much.
Like I’ve mentioned with the previous two books, Tahir’s writing style is quick-paced and exciting, making these relatively lengthy books easy to read. Everything flows beautifully leaves you wanting more.
This is definitely a five-star book, and I recommend this entire series for anyone looking for a great young adult fantasy series.