A Torch Against the Night

464p. (An Ember in the Ashes: Bk. 2). ebook available. Penguin/Razorbill. Aug. 2016. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781101998878. POP
Gr 9 Up—In this sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, Martial Elias and Scholar Laia are trying to escape from Serra and reach the prison of Kauf, where Laia's brother has been imprisoned for having secret knowledge of Martial weapons. Their journey will be extremely hazardous, since Helene Aquilla, childhood friend and fellow Mask, who is now Blood Shrike for the Emperor, has been ordered to hunt Elias down. Elias and Laia are also trying to evade Elias's ruthless mother, the Commandant, who is scheming to seize power and is willing even to poison her own son to achieve her ends. Most dangerous of all, however, is the grim prison of Kauf, where their attempt to rescue Laia's brother leads to further horrors and some surprises. Told in the alternating voices of Elias, Laia, and Helene, this book is even darker and grimmer than the first, which readers will need to be familiar with in order to follow the twists and turns of the plot. Strong and compelling characters, particularly Helene, who is fleshed out more than in the previous volume, and a number of action-packed sequences help keep things moving.
VERDICT This one is bound to be popular with fans of the first installment, making this a must-purchase.

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