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An Ember in the Ashes

[A Quick Note: This was a buddy read with a group of instagram friends. So it was really fun getting to share our thoughts as we moved through the story. We did 5 chapters a day, which was good because this story was so intense, taking it in bite sized chunks made it less anxiety-inducing.]

โ€œ๐‹๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐š๐๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐ฒ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฆ๐ž๐š๐ง ๐ง๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ . ๐“๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐๐š๐ฒ, ๐š ๐ฌ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐š๐ฅ๐จ๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐๐ž๐Ÿ๐ข๐ง๐ž ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐š๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ. ๐’๐ฎ๐œ๐ก ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐š๐ ๐ž, ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก.โ€ โ€”Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a Scholar, oppressed by the Marshals when her people were defeated. Sheโ€™s lost half her family. When her brother attracts the attention of the marshals, heโ€™s captured and taken to prison, while the rest of her family is executed. Laiaโ€™s only hope to save her brother is turning to the Resistance. In exchange, she must pose as a slave, placing herself at the mercy of the most vicious person in the empire: the commandant of the Masks. If she canโ€™t survive her task, her brotherโ€™s death will be on her hands.

Hooollyyyyyy wowwww. This book had no chill. Every chapter was edge-of-your-seat anxiety inducing craziness. But it was SO GOOD. This is one of those books where Iโ€™m kicking myself for taking so long to read it. The hype is real and warranted.

The story follows two POVs, switching between them chapter by chapter, which was often times infuriating and frustrating, but helped make the story super addictive. Both story lines, that of Laia and Elias are excellent. So, technically, you donโ€™t mind the switch, itโ€™s just a bit of whiplash.

The Empire is a harsh and hostile place for all those who arenโ€™t the nobility. The life of a Mask-in-training is BRUTAL. There were moments when my stomach churned. Moments when I asked myself, โ€œIs this really YA?โ€ But fortunately the descriptions arenโ€™t super graphic. Still, this was a lot darker than I expected.

I was intrigued by the world building. Weโ€™ve got a scenario where an oppressive government is ripe for revolution. There is a little bit of unique magic, but itโ€™s subtle. There are middle-eastern inspired creatures like djinn and ghouls, efrits, etc. One dark creature, in particular, is pulling many strings, and itโ€™s clear that the story will really be a fight between humanity and otherworldly beings, under the ruse of a revolution. I love that! I also loved learning the back story behind the Marshal invasion of the Scholars.

The characters are FABULOUS. They each have prominent character arcs. Laia must learn to rely more on herself and become brave. Elias must learn to make better choices between โ€œright and wrongโ€ and discover where he draws the line. Even Helene, who is more of a side character in the first book, must start to question what side she really fights for. I am soooo pumped to see how these characters grow and change.

This story was an excellent start for what is sure to be an amazing series. While it is a bit anxiety-inducing, itโ€™s just so so good. I even cried towards the end. Itโ€™s so rare that a book makes me cry. Thatโ€™s how I know that it got me to FEEL something deep. Highly, highly recommend!

๐Œ๐˜ ๐‘๐€๐“๐ˆ๐๐†: ๐Ÿ“/๐Ÿ“โญ๏ธ


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