A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will continue to learn about the mythology of the jinn, soul catchers, and nomadic tribes. The story describes different fighting styles, weapons (war hammer, scythe, sword, etc.), and strategies for warfare.
Individuals can make a difference in standing up to injustice, resisting the tyranny of evil, and organizing a coalition to protest and fight . People should relate to one another as human and not as their social castes or backgrounds. Love is a force of courage and selflessness. It's important to trust your own instincts and abilities and not defer to someone else's will. Alliances and teamwork are important to fixing a society's many problems.
Positive Role Models
Elias, Laia, Helene, and Harper are all brave, make difficult decisions, are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, and willingly face a seemingly unbeatable force of evil. They each do everything in their power to protect and defend those they love, those they're responsible for, and innocent civilians. The main characters stay steadfast in their unconditional love, support, and encouragement of one another, even as their odds of winning dwindle.
The books in this series have all feature a diverse cast of characters with different skin color, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and sexual orientation. While this is a fantasy, it emphasizes diversity.
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Violence & Scariness
High body count continues: People, including prominent characters, are killed -- during war/battle scenes, usually between armies but also because of supernatural powers and widespread catastrophe. People possessed by ghosts act violently, kill indiscriminately. The Nightbringer can see into people's minds, control them, crush them. Several people are assumed death but are healed or brought back to life -- but that doesn't work for everyone.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two different couples who are in love share longing looks, kiss, and make love under intense circumstances (nobody believes they will survive). A widowed man and grieving woman dance, flirt, and decide to be partners.
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Strong language includes "bitch," "bastard," "plebeian," "burning hells," "hells," "idiots," "bleeding," "whore," "son of a whore," "filthy," "damn," "ass," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink and toast at a party. Characters work with or take medicinal potions and teas.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Sky Beyond the Storm: An Ember in the Ashes, Book 4 is the final installment in Sabaa Tahir's best-selling fantasy saga that started with An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night. Like the previous books, the series ender includes pervasive violence with lots of deaths (including beloved characters), bloody murders, torture, battles, and mentions of mass murder, rape, and enslavement. The romantic aspects feature a couple of love scenes, passionate kissing, and lots of longing looks and small touches. Strong language is split between insults ("bitch," "idiot," "bastard") and "hell," "damn," "bleeding." There are strong, diverse characters (in terms of race/ethnicity and on the LGBTQ spectrum), and the author continues to explore the importance of teamwork, perseverance, and community.
Is It Any Good?
Tahir deserves a virtual standing ovation for the emotionally resonant, rich character development, and intricately plotted storyline of her series finale. This is how you end an an epic book saga. The story is simultaneously a page-turner and also a book readers will want to slow down and savor. Get the tissues ready, because there are heartbreaking moments that will make fans want to take a break, even if those plot points are necessary to the end goal. The core three protagonists -- Laia, Elias, and Helene -- each grow and fulfill their promises to themselves and one another. Harper plays a pivotal role in both his love for Helene and his admiration for his half-brother Elias. These characters are precious, and they've persevered even after the world literally falls apart around them and death is imminent.
It's difficult to summarize how well this culminating novel works without spilling major spoilers. Tahir ups her world-building game as she continues to delve and develop the supernatural elements of the series. Whereas the first two books are memorable for their description of the political intrigue of the empire, the final two books focus more on the magical and fantasy themes, tying together all of the previously introduced characters, people, and places. The end is admittedly bittersweet. It's hard to say farewell to characters after five years, but Tahir brilliantly concludes the unforgettable series that launched her writing career.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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