Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.
I'm just trying to light up the world as much as I can one SciFi/paranormal/fantasy/space opera/time travel book at a time.
"Standing by someone during their darkest times creates a bond. A sense of obligation that is less a weight and more a gift.”
I begged, borrowed and yes...would have stolen this book but OH MY WORD it would have been worth it!!! I'll admit it, I was a bit scared. Me being SOOO very desperate to get my hands on this one and the reality that it could have all gone wrong... horribly, disastrously, soul-crushingly wrong gnawed at me while I waited for it to arrive. Yes, it could have been a complete and utter letdown BUT thank the heavens it wasn't!!!!! (Can't use enough exclamation marks on that last bit) NOW, where do I begin? If I posted the quotes I cherish most I'd not only give away a whole lot of plot but I'd also be regurgitating a HUGE portion of the book... albeit lovingly.
"Don't look so worried. Most successful missions are just a series of barely averted disasters.”
This endeavor was anything but a series of barely averted disasters and very much a carefully choreographed rollercoaster ride. It elicited the gamut of emotions ranging from suspense, despair, hope, torment and beauty...such beauty in the face of incredibly ugly odds/desperation/greed/hatred and much more brutality than its predecessor. The bad guys are sinister and numerous...The Commandant, the Warden (grrrr), Marcus (as always his repugnant self), some new lackeys...and they were ALL horrifically terrible and unyielding. Sounds depressing?? At times it undeniably was BUT there was hope (a slow to ignite ember but an ember nonetheless). Such a thing amid the grunge of despair can be a beacon...or a torch...that can be used to light the way....just saying
"You are my temple, I murmur as I kneel beside her. ‘You are my priest. You are my prayer. You are my release.’ Grandfather would scowl at me for sullying his beloved mantra so. But I prefer it this way.”
This moment between Elias and (a sleeping, soon to be furious) Laia actually brought on the tears...not the newborn wails with bungee cording snot that dangles over the open page... but real life, honest to goodness wet eye tears. I can't help it, I LOOOOVE the budding/tragic amore between Elias and Laia. I have read that a few of you out there have not been feeling the heat, I couldn't disagree (in my friendly voice) more vigorously! There are books that ask you to suspend all previous rationale and some that demand it while taking ahold of your emotions, in a grip most unfriendly, and pinning them there until the very last word is read...this book made me cringe, cheer, gasp in shock and cry (not necessarily in that order), so it's definitely the latter.
Then there was a new POV:
"So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light. But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night - if you dare to let yourself burn.”
We were gifted with a third POV - Helene Aquilla’s. She is Elias’s best friend, Mask, the emperor's right hand killing machine, member of one of the most elite families in the Empire and ooohhhh so much more!! I sometimes don't like how storylines with multiple POVs are handled but this worked for me! I LOVED being privy to Helen's musings/inner workings but I already felt an affinity for her so I might be a bit prejudiced. Her star crossed love for her good- hearted best friend, her affectionate connection with each person she touches and her dedication to her family are just a few things that made me long to hear what she had to say (in her own words) and vwalah!
"Elias and Laia are each other’s countermelodies. I am just a dissonant note.”
There were some awesome new characters introduced...most I liked, a few I LOVED and some I loved to hate...ahem, that's right Warden, I'm looking at you (if books had faces). Here are two amazing lines from supporting characters:
“Perhaps I have become so accustomed to the burden of secrets that I do not notice their weight until I am free of it.”
“Emotions make you human, Even the unpleasant ones have a purpose. Don’t lock them away. If you ignore them, they just get louder and angrier.”
There was danger at every page, the horror of Reality more dastardly and mind blowing twists that will surprise most if not all! The plot twists were deliciously twisty and unforeseen. That is so rare that when it happens I rave about and treasure it.
If you like stories of Humanly flawed people told at breakneck speeds...if you seek out books that are equal parts brutal and breathtakingly beautiful...if you like expertly woven tales about supernatural beings and the plight of Good vs Evil... if you are intrigued by the best and worst Humanity has to offer or if you simply enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes....LOOK NO FURTHER, THIS BOOK'S FOR YOU!!! I was both repulsed and enthralled but most of all I was in ecstasy savouring all of the Feels this gem coaxed, evoked and demanded I feel!