I consume a fair amount of books, most of which I find easy to recommend to customers and friends, but every now and then I stumble across one that I absolutely have to put into the hands of every reader I know. This is my favorite kind of book, the kind that grabs you from page one and hijacks your every sense, holding your emotions hostage long after the final sentence has been read and then reread because you can’t stand for it to be over. This is how I feel after finishing An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.
I almost don’t want to tell you too much about it. I went into it without knowing anything more than the brief teaser on the paperback – “Laia is a slave. Elias is a Soldier. Neither is free.” I was a little skeptical because this story, one of oppression and rebellion and the desperate scrabble for freedom, has been told time and time again, and not always told well. This book completely took me by surprise, sweeping me away into its unique world, shaped by a deftly wrought combination of Arabian folklore with hints of ancient Rome. The characters were equally compelling and gut-wrenchingly relatable. The rotating viewpoints kept me on the edge of my seat and I absolutely stayed up until two in the morning because I just couldn’t sleep before knowing how this book ended.
I could go on, but to do so would only spoil the story. Suffice it to say, you should read this book. It was a deeply moving and satisfying experience.