Review On (Spoiler Alert) : A Reaper At The Gates
FINALLY! I finished this book yesterday after having the book for months after it's release but never had the time to read it. This is one of my favorite series in Young Adult literature. The writer is amazing and I love her style. Her characters are not easily forgettable, her character development is so well done that it craves a mark on my memory. The tone and the use of words in some of the passages reminds me greatly of Chinese sayings. I remembered the thing I was most excited about this book was because of Elias taking over the duties of the Soul Reaper of the waiting place.
This installation was rollercoaster of feelings from the beginning to the very end. I believe there are only a few sections of the book that really broke my heart to a million pieces and I am pretty sure there are a few pieces that will never be found.
Helene who had everything from family, honor, respect, to a boundless future fell from the top to the very bottom. She probably has the most tragic background story out of all the characters. In the third book, Helene and Livva's relationship tore me. They had really little time together in the book as Helene was always away from the capital chasing down Keris and having her own obstacles that she had to jump over. But Livvy was Helene's only reason to keep fighting ever since she lost her entire family to the hands of Marcus. When Livvy was in labor, it was the most heartwarming moment to see Helene and Laia work together to help her sister but also to see Helene lose all composure and fret because she had no idea how to guide someone through labor. We get to see the perspective of Helene on children and marriage. Helene bears a lot on her shoulder, her entire family's death and name will shadow over her decisions life. She has to rebuild the empire and make sure Livva's son sits on the throne. This poor girl can never cut her ties to politics, oaths, and duties. I do want to see her have a happy ending with Harper though.
Laia has always been a strong character. She started off as a basic character and through the books she has grown and developed so much that she has her mother's shadow more and more each day. She has always wondered what happened to her parents - it had always been the mystery she was chasing after to find the truth. Unfortunately, the truth gets revealed to her with the night bringer's aid. This destroys her mentally and psychologically when she realizes her mother was not only the murderer of her sibling and father but also still alive. I always thought Cook was too hard on Laia whenever they were in a scene together. Now, it makes a lot of sense that Cook was actually Laia's mother in hiding for so many years. As short as their reunion was, it was touching and painful to see them interact and be together as Keris has destroyed her mother's ability to speak. When Cook chose to sacrifice herself to save Laia and pay for her wrongs, it broke my heart and how she tried to say: 'I love you, Laia,' killed me. Unfortunately, for Laia I feel she will have to keep being haunted by her past for many years to come.
Keris is a character Sabaa wrote to be the character that everyone would hate and be misunderstood and she would never open up to anyone. I loved the concept and planning. However in this book, we get to see her backstory or a glimpse of it through her father's storytelling. How Elias's father was beaten to death without Keris's knowledge, how she had gone back to find Elias in tribes, how she was treated horribly in the academy. We get this different version of Keris. Someone who was protected by her family, had a loving mother but then everything changed when she stepped outside of that protective circle. She lost her beloved. She got trampled upon and stripped of everything she loved. Of course she'd become a monster that everyone feared. It's a natural instinct.
I would like to close the girls' perspective on this note with a small section of Helene's final thoughts in the book:
"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."
Helene, Laia, and Keris are such strong women all in their own ways with their own burdens and pasts that keep pushing them forward. This small passage relates to all females out there and yes we become stronger by the day with everything it puts us through so cheers to all the females out there and cheers to Sabaa for writing such an amazing series. I cannot wait for the final book and see where these three women end up.
Elias's growth through the books from the first to the current is a rollercoaster heck of a ride from an emotionless Mask, to a boy in love, and to the empty soul reaper. Elias wasn't a perfect mask, he hated his mother, and Laia brought into his life the light and love that he never thought he could be worthy of. She pulled him up as he pulled her up in times of dire need and they were able to give each other direction and strength. However this was a late bloomer in terms of romance to me. Both characters never knew how much they loved each other or needed each other till the moment where there was no return. Because of Laia's cries of help, he neglected his duties and caused the entire barrier of the waiting place to be destroyed and all the ghosts escaped and possessed countless of innocence and dozens of lives were lost. At that point, Elias threw Laia to the back and tried his best amend for his wrongs. At the end of cleaning up his mess, he had pretty much lost most of his humanity to my interpretation.
Abandon your mortal attachments. Abandon your humanity. That's what Mauth, the source of magic from the waiting place that Elias uses keeps telling him. Every single conversation between Elias and Mauth are very spiritual in my perspective. Put personal love aside and think of universal love. Detach yourself from mortal attachments such as: family, friends, loved ones, politics, materialistic matters and be one with the universe. Everyone is equal. Love the universe as a whole with no selfish needs and wants. That's what Mauth wants Elias to achieve and he does finally but you can tell Elias is still trying to hold on inside.
When Laia goes back to talk to Elias one last time, it completely breaks my heart. As Elias once described it, he is an age while Laia is mortal and is getting older and older and will eventually die. He wished it that she could have a chance at life and he'd give up his life with her and choose to live without her and it came to be.
'We are, all of us, just visitors in each other's lives. You will forget my visit soon enough.' That is a very true point in the book and in reality everyone we meet are only for this lifetime or for even a short period of time. We cross paths and then move on. That is actually a chinese saying. I was surprised to have read that. Laia's cries and pleas to try to make Elias stay destroyed my whole mentality. It was too much. I do hope that Elias will come back and be able to escape his fate as soul reaper. They are the most tragic pair of all the pairs in the book.
All of that said- I cannot wait for the next book! Thank you for listening to me rant!