The sequel to An Ember in the Ashes picks up in the middle of the action: Elias and Laia are on the run, having fled the military academy where they met in order to search for Laia’s imprisoned brother. Sabaa Tahir moves between their voices and introduces a third, Elias’ former friend Helene, in this chilling examination of cruelty, perseverance and love. In Helene, Tahir crafts a complex villain whose internal decision-making rings refreshingly real. Like the first book in the series, the second features magic, violence and a meticulous level of world-building, especially in outlining the shifting alliances within the Empire. Tahir amplifies the level of intensity in the sequel, and puts powerful women at the center of the story. As Elias, Laia and Helene’s fates become ever more tied, they must ask themselves just how far they’ll go to win in their tortuous game of survival. Tahir is set to finish her series with the fourth novel, A Sky Beyond the Storm, in December 2020. —Annabel Gutterman

Buy Now: A Torch Against the Night on Bookshop | Amazon

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at