A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir | Book Review

This review is spoiler-free!

“You are cruel, Elias,” she whispers against my mouth. “To give a girl all she desires only to tear it away.”
“This isn’t the end for us, Laia of Serra.” I cannot give up what we could have. I don’t care what bleeding vow I made. “Do you hear me? This is not our end.”
“You’ve never been a liar.” She dashes her hands against the wetness in her eyes. “Don’t start now.”

A Reaper at the Gates, Sabaa Tahir

A Reaper at the Gates An Ember in the Ashes Sabaa Tahir book coverTitle: A Reaper at the Gates
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, #3
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Category: YA
Genre: fantasy
Pages: 458
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Goodreads page

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Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister’s life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. Yet danger lurks on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor’s volatility to grow her own power—regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows that the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. During the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. However, in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender—even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.

[ This synopsis was taken directly from Goodreads. ]

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I swear this series is going to kill me. If A Torch Against the Night (the second book) is a roller coaster, then this book is the first drop of a ride with no up. It was like the cart was accelerating downwards the whole story. The more the story progresses, the worse the characters’ situations become. It was as though Sabaa Tahir wanted to give us readers a heart attack.

I’ve always compared this series to Game of Thrones (the TV show) because of how unpredictable it was. Sabaa Tahir has no qualms to killing off her characters, and the story takes some unexpected turns. Also, I love to hate her villains. I haven’t despised a character this much (*cough cough* Keris Veturia a.k.a. the Commandant) since Ramsay Bolton on Game of Thrones. The story lines of the two series are totally different, but the no-rules/anything-can-happen vibes are the same. That’s why I love this series so much. A lot of YA fantasy books can become predictable, but this one keeps me on my toes. It’s interesting, fun, dangerous, and exciting, and that’s why I keep on coming back for more even though it hurts.

In this series, the characters often talked about the importance of names. I like how the author uses certain names to show the arc for her characters. An example would be when Tahir would use Helene vs. the Blood Strike. In my mind, they’re almost like two different characters because of how much Helene had changed to become the Blood Strike. When someone addresses her as “Helene”, they’re trying to appeal to the person she once was, the person behind the Mask. When they call her “Blood Strike,” they’re talking to the person she has become. You can also see it in the chapter titles. In the first couple books, chapters in Helene’s POV were labeled “Helene” but more frequently they’re labeled as “The Blood Strike.” There are other characters Sabaa Tahir have done this with as well, but I thought Helene’s was one of the more obvious ones.

I’m not going to lie, I got pretty frustrated with this book a couple times. I wrote down in my notes “nothing goes right,” and I don’t know a truer sentence to describe A Reaper at the Gates. Because everything goes wrong, I didn’t have any hope for the characters. I wanted them to have at least one win, one morale boost, or something. Because they were starting to become despaired, so did I. I had to take a break from the book a few times because the constant frustration I was feeling. The inevitability of everything made me wonder why the characters kept moving forward.

At the same time, that motivation that drove the characters to fight with all they’ve got despite everything makes me hopeful for the finale. The ending made it seem like they *might* have a chance.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book (but not the heart attack it caused), and I can’t wait to see what happens in the finale!

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I give A Reaper at the Gates 4.5 / 5 stars!

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What were your thoughts on A Reaper at the Gates?
Have you read A Sky Beyond the Storm?
Who is your favorite character in this series?

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Stay awkward and amazing!

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