Review Detail

4.5 6
Young Adult Fiction 8937
Overall rating
Writing Style
"An Ember in the Ashes" is the captivating tale of a Scholar (race) named Laia and a Martial named Elias. Each is trapped in their world and seeking freedom. Laia's story begins with the capture of her brother and death of her grandparents (their parents and sister are already dead) at the hand of the Martial Empire. As a lowly Scholar, she does not have much recourse other than to try to join the Resistance and spy for them in exchange for them working to break out her brother.

Elias has been raised to be a Mask, a ruthless type of soldier from whom Emperors are chosen. Deserters are publicly killed, but he is willing to risk it for his freedom. The POV is third person limited alternating between the two characters. Their lives intertwine at various points, each a reminder of himself in the other.

One of the things I found really unique about this book was that the two main characters were not each other's primary love interests, and I liked that it wasn't forced. Additionally, this world is unlike any I have ever read- there are elements of a dystopian society but combined with fantasy (ghuls, jinn, etc.). The characters are each interesting and flawed- they lack a specific type of courage that they need to be satisfied with their current lot in life. What they learn throughout the book is the strength of their own character which is really enough to achieve what they need and want.

The story is carefully woven and their destinies are aligned, though exactly how much doesn't become clear until the end (which I did not entirely predict). The plot kept me on my toes and I found this book impossible to put down. It's beautiful, real (flawed and all), and fantastic.
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