I don't know what I was expecting when I read An Ember in the Ashes, but not this. Not this brutal, heartbreaking, real story. This novel breathed wit I don't know what I was expecting when I read An Ember in the Ashes, but not this. Not this brutal, heartbreaking, real story. This novel breathed with horror and pain, but also hope and love. It was difficult to get through sometimes. Some scenes, particularly the third trial, had my heart crying out, as I felt the wretchedness of the characters and their task, their duty, and their pure sorrow and terror at what they are commanded to do. Tahir expertly crafted a tale that spoke directly to the heart, bringing to life the brutalness of a Rome like world where dark magical beings reside. Jinn and efrits and the like, creatures thought to be myth by the people, but that reveal themselves throughout the novel.
This story is not a light, carefree story where everything ends up right at the end and the girl and boy realize their undying love for one another and the evil is triumphed. No, this story is quite unlike most novels. This novel is real. It doesn't cut corners, or spare the reader the brutality of the Masks and the Commandant. It doesn't let up when it knows you are suffering as the characters are suffering and wish that they didn't have to do what they're doing. And this is what made me love the novel so much. Tahir did such an excellent job at creating her story, at melding the dark side with the magical side and even the love. Love between a sister and her brother; love between a girl and her new found slave friend; love between a girl and a boy. That being said, the romantic love was practically not even there. It didn't lead the story and come at you screaming to be heard. It was so refreshing to have a story that is led by the plot, and to have the romance be almost an afterthought. But still there, because I do love a good love story. But I also love a good story that doesn't need romance to be a story.
As for the characters, they were so believable. Particularly the main characters, Laia and Elias. Laia was an uncertain, scared girl who's family is dead and she has to beat unimaginable odds to free her brother. She goes through so much, but she stands strong. She's afraid and weak, but she's so strong because she rises above her weakness and in the end refuses to be beaten down and to let her friends die. I love this girl. I loved watching her journey and seeing her grow and overcome her trials and fight the evil with her goodness. Elias was someone who caught my attention right at the beginning. Here's a guy who wants to do the right thing, wants to be free of the brutality, wants to save lives. And he goes through his own trials, though his station is high, and he could have everything he wants. He hates the world he lives in, but realizes that he has to face it. And, gah, that third trial, I still can't get over it. It was so heartbreaking, I didn't want it to happen. But, I guess for the sake of the story it needed to. Through everything though, Elias stayed true to who he was. Strong, loyal, good, striving to do the right thing.
This is a novel that will stay with me for a long time. I didn't expect it to affect me so. But I think seeing the darkness helped me to understand the characters better and to appreciate the good that did happen. I can see why this book is getting so much hype. It definitely deserves it. So, read on people, read an exhilarating, death defying, ruthless novel that will tear your heart out, but that will give you strength and hope to put it back together. Read a truly outstanding novel. I certainly loved it....more
Yeah, it was alright. I mean, if you like that kind of thing. If you like brilliant novels, with outstanding writing and storyline, and fantastic charYeah, it was alright. I mean, if you like that kind of thing. If you like brilliant novels, with outstanding writing and storyline, and fantastic characters, and, you know, a katana wielding girl riding on a thunder tiger in a Japanese steampunk layout. *shrug* If you like that kind of book, I suppose you would like this one.
So, Stormdancer was quite a roller coaster ride. A really thrilling one that you just want to ride again and again. It’s the best steampunk book I’ve read, (not that I’ve read a lot of steampunk, but still, amazing steampunk). It’s the best book I’ve read that is Japanese inspired, (not that I’ve read a lot of Japanese inspired books). It’s the best book about thunder tigers I have ever read. Although, this is the only book about thunder tigers that I have ever read, so I guess that’s not really saying anything. Except for the fact that that makes this novel original. So I guess it’s a good thing, that I haven’t read a book that is similar to this one. Okay, you know what? This book one of the best YA books I have read.
I can’t say it’s the best, (for me), because a lot of violence and gory scenes aren’t really my thing. But when I find a novel, or show, that is bloody and violent, and has an amazing plot and story, and fantastic characters, and powerful emotion and relationships, I fall hard for the story. And the blood doesn’t bother me as much. Stories like, the Mistborn trilogy. That has some pretty graphic scenes, but the story is brilliant. And like the TV show Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, (I haven’t read the manga). That, is a very bloody, violent anime. But I love it, because the story is amazing and emotional. Stormdancer, is like these. It’s violent, but amazing. So I loved it. Like a lot. And I could definitely see this playing out in anime form, or even live action. Either way, it would make an awesome show.
I fell in love with the Japanese culture. But it was a little hard to envision everything, because there were a lot of Japanese terms that I had no clue what they were, so the pictures in my mind were missing things sometimes. But the picture I did get, was still awesome. And Kristoff’s writing certainly helped. He wrote with deftness and grace, crafting an amazing world with fantastic characters and folklore. On that note, Buruu, the thunder tiger, may have been my favorite character. His presence is incredibly impressive. But his emotions are what got to me. You can see his mind, and you can understand him. I loved his relationship with Yukiko. It started out very rocky, and dangerous, but evolved into something beautiful, and I want to see more of it, and see it strengthen even more.
And I loved all the other characters. I loved Yukiko. She was a strong character, who still showed a little weakness, but she had incredible depth, and powerful love. And her love may be hidden, but she truly cares for people, like her father. That was another relationship that I liked. They don’t have a good relationship, but at the end, things are revealed and understood, and it was beautiful. So, yeah. This novel was pretty much amazing. I think it will resonate with and impress many readers. And I can’t wait for the sequel. And, perhaps, news about a movie deal? Hmm? So, my hat's off to Mr. Kristoff; you did yourself proud.
Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the arc!