“You cannot walk in the shadows as long as I have and not become one.”
Oh my goodness, Sabaa! What have you done to me?!
I had been warned about A Reaper at the Gates over and over from Sabaa Tahir herself to review after review of the novel. I knew it was coming but it didn’t make it hurt any less. This one will rip you open guys, and Sabaa Tahir is incredibly good at knowing exactly where to stab you to cause the most damage.
Reaper was one of my most anticipated releases this year. And when it showed up on my Kindle at precisely 10pm the night before it was released (this would be midnight EST), I took a deep breath and started reading. I made it about five pages before I realized I had no idea what the hell was going on… I needed to re-read the first two. So Reaper was delayed while I could refresh my <aging> mind by re-reading An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I revisited this world from the beginning. I am embarrassed to admit how much I had forgotten. (Like, seriously, the twist at the end of the first book was a complete surprise to me… again!).
Elias, Laia and (my lady) Helene shine in the first two books. And at the end of Torch I hesitated… I don’t want to give too much away to those of you that haven’t read this series yet, but the second book ends on a more hopeful note. Our characters are not exactly happy at this point, but there is a pause. A moment in time that really feels like everything might just work out for the best.
So as a reader, I wanted to stop here. What was I thinking before? Why would I want to continue this story now? It would most definitely end in misery… so who would do that to themselves….
Strange how monsters can reach from beyond the grave, as potent in death as they were in life.
A Reaper at the Gates was one of my favorite books this year and most of it is because of Helene (aka The Blood Shrike). She hands down makes this book (much like she made A Torch Against the Night). She is such a tortured badass and out of the three main characters, she easily has the hardest decisions with the worst consequences. And through it all, she stays incredibly tough and at the same time, incredibly passionate, understanding and real.
I also loved learning a little bit more about the villains of this universe: Marcus, the Nightbringer and Keris Veturia most of all. There is a TON of backstory in Reaper and an abundance of character development to most of the side characters that we knew very little about – plus I loved the new characters, especially Musa. Tahir answers a lot of the questions I had from the first two books (and some I didn’t even know I had!). And while there was one “twist” I actually saw coming from Book 1 (concerning Laia’s mother), Tahir managed to shock me again and again and again.
So, you might be asking at this point. What’s with only four spades then? Well, there were a few things I didn’t love about this installment. Elias’s chapters were (unfortunately) clearly less interesting than Laia’s and Helene’s. To the point where I actually groaned a couple times when Tahir left me at a cliffhanger and I turned the page to an Elias chapter. I never really cared about what he was up to when the stakes seemed sooo much higher for Laia and Helene.
Also, this book has WAY. TOO. MUCH. WAR. I get it! I really do – that is sort of the point of the novel. The stakes have to get higher and blood and death and battles is the way to do it. But, I was just exhausted from reading battle after battle after battle. After a while, you just start to glaze over all the death and I really wanted to be present through the whole book.
So here we are at the end, miserable. I’m going to have to really think good thoughts for Book 4 (this is the end, right?!) because I love all these characters. I even sort of love the bad guys, and the gushy, lovey part of me really wants everything to turn out with rainbows and sunshine.
Fingers crossed…. ❤
“One piece remains, and beware the Reaper at the Gates!”