A Reaper at the Gates is written gently as silk and yet so powerful. Good, in this case, I prefer the German cover over the original one, but what matters the most is the story itself. And that one was WOW! Good, it took me a while to get into the story, to understand all the back and forth during the first few chapters, but then … holy moly! It was wonderful to dive back into the novel and story of Elias and Laia. Although I was not happy with the end.

Elias & Laia In Den Fängen Der Finsternis
by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember In The Ashes #3
Translation Barbara Imgrund
Original Title A Reaper At The Gates
Publisher One on February 28, 2019
Genre Children 14+
Pages 523
Format Hardcover
Source Publisher

The world will burn. But she will rise from the ashes. The martial empire is on the brink: Emperor Marcus covers the land with the blood of the innocent, while Blood Shrike Helena tries to protect them. Far to the east, Laia knows she has to stop the Nightbringer, and that without Elias. He is bound as a Soul Catcher to the land between the living and the dead. The spiritual realm. Damned to serve unconditionally – even if it means abandoning the woman he loves. Their fate is linked. And they all fight against an ancient power whose destructive power they all underestimate … (personal translation by ©Vi at Inkvotary).
Laia wants to save her people from the bloody war the emperor Marcus is leading against the innocent. Helena, the emperors´ Blood Shrike tries to keep her sister from his brutal wrath and Elias faces some trouble as a Soul Catcher. And while cities burn to ashes in the downfall of the empire, Laia learns the bitter truth about her mother. 

I don´t know how Sabaa Tahir does it or where she finds her inspiration but reading A Reaper at the Gates was like watching a dream in which Laia plays the main part. The writing style smooth as silk,  words like pearls, and the action as bloody as someone can imagine. 

What a great combination.

Yes, there are pages where the story kind of splatters to herself, and I read details and things I wasn´t really interested in, but the rest? One heck of a bloody, cruel, and yet very sensitive story that answers many questions but leaves others unanswered.

Laia needs to find a way to save her people and others from the emperor’s bloody war. To do that, she needs answers. But every time she comes close to one, someone seems to do everything within their power to keep her from getting it. And without Elias, Laia has no other choice but to use her magic and to do things, she´d never thought she´d do. Her strength, her will, and the way how she acts change during the ongoing story. That was very impressive. She literally grows-up in front of the reader´s eye and in the end, you know that nothing will be the same for her.

This was one bloody, emotional, and action-filled novel. I did not like the end, and was, after reading it, sad, angry, and confused. So, yes, I got caught emotionally in the best way a book is able to. If you are no fan of the author and this series yet, see this as a highly recommended novel. 

Happy reading

*This book was kindly provided to me by One in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review.

*The book was originally published A Reaper At The Gates by Razorbill on June 12, 2018. 

Sabaa Tahir
Sabaa Tahir ©Christophe Testi

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California´s Mojave Desert at her family´s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother´s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerdy. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.


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