A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Sabaa Tahir does it again with the third installment of her Ember Quartet! This book was phenomenal! (If you haven’t read the first two, there will probably be unintentional spoilers for the first two books here, so… what’re you waiting for? Go read the first two! If you want to see my reviews for those, go to starisallbookedup.tumblr.com)
I think the best part about this series is that no matter what you think is going to happen, it’s still a surprise! I never could have guessed any of this would happen and the entire time, I was freaking out (if you followed my commentary on GR, it’s very obvious!)! And yes, this deserves the five stars because literally it’s been a few days and I’m still not over everything that happened in this book and I can’t believe I have to wait for the next one??? Like… please give me more???
So Reaper begins just a little after Torch with Laia and Darin reunited. Elias is in the Waiting Place (because you know… he died… but traded his life to help Shaeva in the Spirit World… literally, Sabaa how did you come up with this? It’s SO COOL) and Helene is the Bood Shrike for the most terrible person ever. Okay, wait. Marcus isn’t as terrible as the Commandant, but still. Pretty close. Before I read the book, I watched Sabaa’s recaps on youtube (they’re awesome!) and then dived in.
I read this pretty slowly, but not because there was anything wrong with the book, but because I had a lot of studying and I had to pace myself (until I got to Part IV, in which I finished the book that night, completely disregarding my sleep and study schedule because I had no self control and couldn’t bring myself to put the book down!). Reading it slowly actually gave me more of a chance to really digest the intensity of everything that was happening.
It was really cool to see three separate stories just come together so beautifully. Unlike the first two which had three stories that continuously merged together and overlapped, this book shifted more because the narrators were in different places. I loved seeing the different journeys and connecting all the stories!
If you’ve followed my reviews for the first two, you’ll know how much I just absolutely adore Laia and her character development! She’s grown so much and I can easily say she has one of the best character development arcs in any book I’ve ever read! Helene’s story and character was expanded so much in this book and I just love her so much! I loved seeing the new characters and the more minor characters (Avitas Harper and Livia specifically) shine more too! I’m really excited to see what happens with everyone in the next one, especially because of all the beautiful chaos that occurred at the end of this one!
Sabaa Tahir has the amazing ability to shock the reader with exciting twists and reveals that feel like they come out of nowhere but actually have been thought out and planned once you really understand what’s happening. It always makes me nervous when a book has chapters narrated by different characters, but Tahir does an amazing job narrating through the different characters perspectives and keeping you on your toes. The world is beautifully built, and the story is exciting and unforgettable! I am so excited to see the finale, whenever that may be!
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel. Fans of Marie Lu and Renee Ahdieh will definitely enjoy this original and exciting story!
NOW FOR THOSE THAT HAVE READ THE BOOK LET’S TALK ABOUT A FEW THINGS, OKAY?
BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
Did anyone else just not see any of that coming? I mean… Cook! How?! Did Darin know? I mean, I don’t think he did, butthen why else would he be so adamant that Laia didn’t need to be like the Lioness?
And also, Helena just couldn’t catch a break, could she? Every time I thought maybe she’d have a moment of peace… NOPE. And the scene with the last piece of the star? Oh my goodness, I had CHILLS. It was so intense and heartbreaking! Helene’s character development is also one of the greatest things to ever happen to me, truly I am blessed to have such amazing female characters.
And on that note, Livia is seriously inspiring. So much crap is happening and she’s tortured so much and yet she keeps her calm and has a frikkin baby like… wow. (Also, the fact that Laia knows how to birth a baby, PERFECT!)
And I totally ship Harper and Helena, obviously. I think they deserve some happiness. I mean.. the scene after she loses her mask, GAH! Sabaa Tahir, how can you torture us so?!
Like, for instance, the “dream” scene with Elias and Laia. AH! So intense, and then BAM! Suddenly no more hot and steamy and more creepy and crazy and that’s just rude, Sabaa! Teasing us like that! AGH!
I really liked Musa, and am excited to see where his story goes, to see his relationship with Laia is going to be really interesting! I also want to know what happened with Aubarit! She was an intriguing character, but her character wasn’t expanded because you know… there was SO MUCH.
And can we talk about Elias? I was so heartbroken when the chapter title changed from Elias to the Soul Catcher. HOW COULD YOU. Those scenes when Helene and Laia asked for help and he refused ripped me to SHREDS!
Anyway, I’m a sucker for the Oedipus Rex trope (no matter what you do to change your fate, the prophecy ends up happening). So this ending, though heartbreaking and terrifying and shocking, was really awesome. I mean… I definitely would not have enjoyed this if everything had been resolved, despite how much I was rooting for Laia to bring the Nightbringer down, you know?