Book Talk: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Book Talk: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in Ashes #1
Published by Razorbill on April 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Laia and Elias both live in a world controlled by the Martials –a  brutal, sadistic regime who rules by force and will kill for the smallest infraction. Laia has grown up poor with her grandparents and brother and is part of the Scholar class that is persecuted by the Martials. Elias is from a powerful family and goes to one of the best military schools, Briarcliff, where he trains to be a Mask and is at the top of his class but he really plans to desert because he hates this way of life and doesn’t want to be a killer. Laia’s brother is taken away and accused of treason and Laia tries to make a deal with some rebels who promise her that they will help release her brother if she goes undercover as a spy at Briarcliff where she will be the slave to a brutal and powerful woman. It is there at Briarcliff that Laia and Elias meet and come to learn just how intertwined their destinies are.

a2*tries to catch breath and calm down*


Upon finishing the book someone asked me what I thought and my reply was that 1) that I super enjoyed it and 2) it was sosososososo intense and brutal.

High intensity factor: seriously this book had me on the edge of my seat pretty much from the start until the nail-biting and explosive end. If you are looking for a book that has high stakes, espionage, traitors, magic, betrayals and so much action….I can’t recommend this enough. I felt like the action just kept being upped, without sacrificing too much character development, and I could NOT read fast enough to find out how it would end.  There’s a lot at stake for both of the main characters and I loved watching their stories converge in such an intense manner. They both are in seemingly impossible and desperate positions and it sure becomes a page-turner.

It was searingly brutal: The world itself is very violent and cutthroat with the Martials being in charge. They are a very militaristic type society that definitely rules by force and brutal deaths. I think what shocked me about this book was just HOW brutal it was. It didn’t shy away. The baddies were truly sadistic and awful and things they did shocked me. The trials to determine the new emperor almost made The Hunger Games look like child’s play. I couldn’t believe what they were put through. I was just really pleased that Sabaa didn’t just tell us how brutal this society was but SHOWED us that I seriously feared for the character’s lives at all times.  The body count is high and so you really get a sense for how brutal it is…it doesn’t soften any punches and sometimes it is tough to stomach when you are reading.

My only small qualm was that the worldbuilding was a little sparse for me at first though I had known it was based on a Ancient Rome like world but I wasn’t feeling it but it definitely won me over though I have so many questions about the magic system and different aspects of the world.

I don’t have much to say about the romances that were hinted at except they are both in some tough situations when it comes to their interests. I liked that there were some attractions but not too much to let me feel like they were unrealistically focused on that given the intensity of both situations when they both were literally in life or death situations.



factors+ page-turning qualities, plot, interesting world, twists and turns, writing
–  the world-building at the beginning, needed more character development to make it a fave

a5fans of fantasy or dystopian type books (it’s fantasy but definitely reminded me of some dystopian novels…there’s magic but it wasn’t super present for most the book), people who can handle super brutal and violent type worlds/actions in a book (not always for the faint of heart in this book), fans of Legend by Marie Lu, readers looking for something pretty action-packed with an interesting plot

a8An Ember in the Ashes was a book that was SUPER hyped and it was like THAT BOOK EVERYONE WAS TALKING ABOUT this year. I had started it earlier in the year but had to put it down to get to a book club book and never got back around to it. I’m super glad I finally did because the hype didn’t detract from this book for me as I couldn’t have even imagined how intense and brutal this book was. I haven’t read something so thrilling in a while with truly high stakes that surprised me at different turns. CANNOT WAIT FOR BOOK 2 but was happy it wasn’t a massive cliffhanger.

review-on-post-itAn Ember in Ashes by Sabaa Tahir


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?



The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I absolutely loved this book. I could not put it down. It may well have been my favourite this year and I have read alot of great books this year. Really can’t wait for the next book!

  2. Loved this book so much! I can’t wait for the sequel!!!

  3. I’ve seen this one around heaps! Definitely might need to give it a go.

  4. I initially read this when it came out a few months back but I couldn’t get into it. I may reread this in the future! Thanks for this review. It really made me think twice. 😊

  5. I absolutely LOVED this book. It was the first book I borrowed from the bookstore I work at when I started working there (BEST PERK EVER) and I recently managed to snag myself a copy for free from a box of books our manager brought back from a conference, so I’ll be able to re-read it before the next one comes out in April. (April? I think April. I looked it up in the BN system I can’t remember)

    So excited to see people talking about this one! I do kind of agree that the world building was a bit sparce at the beginning- like maybe she relied a little too much on the Ancient Rome bit- but I think it definitely picked up plenty as the book went on! <3

  6. After reading all the ravings about this book I am getting more and more frustrated that I have not read it yet!

    Nihaad – Read & Seek

  7. I have a copy of this waiting on my TBR pile and I’ve heard such amazing things, so I must definitely get to it soon. Wonderful review, Jamie! 🙂

  8. I liked how the dual POV gave us a better understanding of the world, since there was a lack of world building. There were definitely a lot of brutal scenes, but the high intensity was probably one of my favorite parts of the book. Although I really enjoyed reading An Ember in Ashes, I felt a lack of connection with the characters. I just couldn’t connect with them like I usually do with the MCs. Still excited to read the sequel though! Great review!

  9. YAAAAASSSSS so glad you loved this one!! It really is super intense and brutal, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t put it down once as I was reading (I mean, I probably did, but it feels like I read this in one sitting). I’m so glad that Sabaa didn’t shy away from the grit and brutality, because it made the world feel really REAL and MOSTLY SADISTIC (omg the things that happened!) and the story was engaging and it was seriously an addicting read. I think, if I had one qualm, it was the romance. I was never quite sure where it wanted to go, but I’m happy it didn’t really take over the story at all. I’m assuming the sequel will straighten it all out anyway. SPEAKING OF, I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL!