This is one of those books you enjoy while reading, but after a couple of weeks, you can’t really remember why. I’m not sure why that is. Second book syndrome, I guess. I remember for sure that I did like it, although not quite as much as I liked the first one. What can I say, I like bright, shiny new things.
One thing I will say, I’m not entirely sure where this story is going, and that feels good. Tahir made a bunch of storytelling decisions here that surprised me, which is pretty hard to do these days. (The one real drawback to reading too much.) The book picks up where An Ember in the Ashes left off, with Laia and Elias on the run, and Helene now Blood Shrike to the new Emperor, the cruel Markus. Tahir smartly adds Helene as a third POV narrator, in addition to Elias and Laia. This is smart because not only does it deepen the world, and take the pressure off the previous hetero love quadrangle narrative they had going on, but Helene is a badass motherfucker, and reading from her perspective was actually my favorite part of the novel.
I also continue to be impressed by Tahir’s actual prose. This is still noticeably YA, but it also has a very specific feel to it that makes me feel like Tahir is just super in control of her shit. Her worldbuilding is also top notch. Things just keep getting more detailed, and the world deepens and widens, just as the characters are doing. She is also taking giant flying leaps away from a lot of the YA clichés I’ve seen in the last six or seven years. One of my biggest complaints with the first book is how generic it felt at first, but the more you read of it, the more non-generic it seems. At least, to me.
Okay, actually as I’m writing this I’m remembering why I liked the book so much while reading it. So, like, just ignore what I said up there. The problem might actually be that I am getting old and have a terrible memory, and also I read too much.