Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date:  April 28th, 2015
Page Count: 453 pages
Format:  Kindle eBook
Source: Purchased

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. 
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 4/5 stars

Gosh, this book is a whole different level of awesome. If it weren't for my busy day schedule, I would have finished it in one sitting, but because of it, I had to painfully read it late at night before bedtime. It was the cause I was always tired in the morning. You just CANNOT read only a few pages. An Ember in the Ashes draws you in, it glues your eyes to its pages and makes you want to flip through chapters non-stop.

I've been reading a lot of books with dual POV's, but none have been as amazing as An Ember in the Ashes'. I loved that the characters were going through totally different things and that we learn all about them individually, without having to learn about them together as a couple (like it usually happens). Laia is a brave girl risking her life to save her brother by sneaking into Blacksmith Academy as a spy for the rebels. Elias, handsome and deadly, is looking for a way out of the horrible life as a Mask in Blacksmith Academy. When they meet, sparks FLY, and I'm not even talking in the romantic sense. Their fates and the fate of everybody else depends on them both- of their choices and their will to survive.

But wow, was this book bloody! That was something unexpected. It was a tough book to read for sure and I was heavily disturbed at times. Whenever I came across a scene that was a bit too rough, I would call it a night and sleep on it. It was hard to see my characters abused, disfigured and pushed towards their possible death, or worse, to end the lives of innocents. Everything's just a sick game of power & survival, of meddling with forces that shouldn't be messed with in the first place.

There's also a bit of romance between the characters, but it's really not the center focus of this book. I enjoyed these little moments when Laia and Elias got closer to each other, when they would forget who they were and where they where. I wish their relationship were a simpler one, but each one is facing their (sort of) small love triangle and I'm not sure who is going to end up with who. Rooting for Laia and Elias though!

All in all, An Ember in the Ashes was a fantastic debut and I'm highly anticipating for the sequel. There's so much room to explore in this fantasy world and I want to discover it all!


  1. I've been hearing pretty interesting things about this book. I'm definitely going to try and get my hands on this one soon! Great review, Melissa. I'm highly intrigued!

    1. I hope you love it! This book is a stand-out gem for sure. :)