Review: A Reaper at the Gates

“Curse this world for what it does to the mothers, for what it does to the daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure,” Sabaa Tahir 

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
458 pages
Published by Razorbill (Penguin Teen), 2018
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Re-readability: I hope to come back to this one. Perhaps I’ll read the whole series again before the next one is published.
Reviewed by Indiana
Spoiler free review

I was one of those people waiting at Barnes & Noble at 9 a.m. on the day this book came out. I drove all the way across town and was late for work just to get this thing. Needless to say, I was excited for the next installment and for what I thought was going to be the last book in the series.

I obviously missed the news about Tahir getting a new contract to write another one. So as I was reading A Reaper at the Gates, I had it in my head that this was the finale of the entire series.

Unfortunately, it messed things up for me because I had expectations that everything was going to be wrapped up and, well, concluded.

Let’s just say the entire world fell apart so many times that I had no idea how these poor characters were ever going to make it out alive. Luckily, some of them did. If you’ve read the first two in the series, you’ll already understand that Tahir is in no way ever soft on her characters. For those who haven’t read it, think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

This book was no exception. It starts with Elias still grappling with how to become the Soul Catcher without losing himself (and Laia) completely. Helene, or the Blood Shrike as she is called, has been tasked with taking down Keris, an impossible task for anyone. But if she doesn’t, the king will kill her sister, who also happens to be his new wife. Laia is still trying to stop the Nightbringer from reaching that last piece of the star and from taking over the world.

The battle between scholars and masks rages on, but there are a few other paranormal aspects to the plot, which make the original struggle between the masks and scholars seem almost toned down. For those who haven’t started the book, I won’t get into it because it will definitely ruin more than a few unfortunate surprises.

This was not my favorite in the series, however, I think it was certainly was strong in the sense that it moved the plot forward at a rate that I didn’t think even Sabaa Tahir could go. Her previous two books never dragged, I mean ever, which is impressive for books over 400 pages long. With A Reaper at the Gates, it’s really hard not to devour it in one sitting; the world outside the book just melts away.

There were plenty of surprises in this one, some heart wrenching and others sweetly clever.

Helene is tested to the extreme, but I think she really shone through whereas in the first two her character was overshadowed by Laia and Elias. Her strength has impressed me from the start and it was tested, strained and stretched thin in A Reaper at the Gates. There was also finally one or two happy moments for her (which I’d been rooting for for what felt like forever).

As I felt with the other two books, I wished the magic systems and the political systems were explored a bit more. But with Tahir managed to pack a stunning amount in the 458 pages and I can’t wait for the next installment, whenever it comes out, I’ll probably be at Barnes & Noble at 9 a.m. again, waiting.

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