Author Spotlight: Sabaa Tahir

Photograph of Author Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa Tahir is one of our favorite young adult authors. A self-described music-head and book junkie, she loves thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerdy. Sabaa, a Pakistani American, grew up in the Mojave Desert in California, where her family owned an eighteen-room hotel. It was here that she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother's comic book stash, and playing guitar. 

Sabaa started her career as a journalist and has been a professional author since 2015. Her books have been translated into over 35 languages and sold over a million copies. Her accolades include making the New York Times #1 bestselling author list and being on Time Magazine's list of the 100 best fantasy books of all time. In 2022, her book All My Rage won the  National Book Award, the Printz Medal, and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. 

And if that wasn't enough, her work has appeared on coveted book lists like Amazon, Buzzfeed, The New York Public Library, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Hypable, Paste, Bustle, LA Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, TIME, and Entertainment Weekly.

Photograph of author Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa Tahir's Books

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes is the first in a series of 4, and trust us, this is a series you can't put down!

In a brutal world inspired by ancient Rome and governed by the ruthless Martial Empire, any act of defiance against the Emperor can lead to the death or suffering of one's family. Laia, a young girl living in poverty with her grandparents and brother, faces a dire situation when her brother is arrested for treason. 

Desperate to save him, Laia agrees to spy for rebels within the Empire's top military academy. There, she encounters Elias, the academy's best soldier, who also seeks to escape the Empire's oppressive regime. As Laia and Elias's paths cross, they discover their fates are connected, and their decisions could alter the course of the Empire.

A Torch Against the Night

In the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, the story continues to follow Laia and Elias as they venture deep into the Empire, aiming to free Laia's brother from the dreadful Kauf Prison. 

Facing relentless pursuit by Empire soldiers, manipulation by the Commandant, and the ghosts of their pasts, they must cleverly navigate through dangers and confront their own inner turmoil. Meanwhile, Helene Aquilla is trapped in Serra by the demands of the Empire's new and malevolent leader, Marcus. Tasked with a mission to prove her loyalty, which risks her very being, Helene's journey explores the harsh costs of fidelity and survival within the Empire's cruel grip.

A Reaper at the Gates

In the third book of Sabaa Tahir's Ember Quartet, the world edges closer to war. Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, contends with political instability as Emperor Marcus's sanity wanes and the Commandant seizes the opportunity to increase her control. Helene battles to save the Empire and her sister's life from the looming threat of darkness. 

Laia of Serra, on a mission in the east, seeks to defeat the Nightbringer. She faces unforeseen threats from presumed allies and engages in unexpected battles, understanding that the world's fate hinges not on court politics but on her success against this formidable foe. 

Elias Veturius, now the Soul Catcher, is trapped between life and death. He is bound to an ancient power that demands his complete devotion, risking his humanity in the process. 

A Sky Beyond the Storm 

Just months after A Reaper at the Gates, the fourth book in Sabaa Tahir's Ember Series escalates the conflict. The released jinn wreak chaos, led by the Nightbringer, who seeks revenge against humanity. Alongside him, Keris Veturia, now self-declared Empress, targets dissenters, especially the Blood Shrike and her family.

Laia of Serra, aligning with the Blood Shrike, grapples with personal loss while focusing on defeating the Nightbringer. Her efforts awaken an ancient power that might either secure her victory or lead to catastrophic failure.

Meanwhile, the Soul Catcher, residing in the Waiting Place, attempts to distance himself from his past and the horrors wrought by the Nightbringer and his jinn. Bound by his oath to protect humans from supernatural forces, he faces a pivotal decision that could safeguard or doom the world he knows. 

We loved that this series weaves together themes of power, vengeance, and redemption as characters confront their pasts and their roles in the future.

OUABC Book subscription box featuring All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

All My Rage

In Lahore, Pakistan, Misbah, a dreamer and storyteller, marries Toufiq through an arranged marriage. After facing a tragic event, they move to the United States to start anew, opening the Cloud's Rest Inn Motel.

In Juniper, California, Salahudin (Sal) and Noor share a deep bond, having grown up as outcasts in a small desert town. Their friendship faces a catastrophic blow following a significant argument, leading to a rift between them.

As Misbah's health deteriorates and his father succumbs to alcoholism, Sal struggles to maintain the family motel. At the same time, Noor battles her own demons, secretly applying to college to escape her abusive uncle and the confines of Juniper.

Their paths converge when Sal's efforts to save the motel lead to desperate measures. Sal and Noor are forced to confront the value of their friendship and the resilience needed to overcome their past traumas and present challenges.

Themes of isolation and marginalization are central to this novel, and Sabaa draws on her own experiences of growing up in California's Mojave Desert. In an interview with Time Magazine, Sabaa shared some of her experiences, like remembering when a classmate asked her whether she had a green card. She remembers the numerous mispronunciations of her name and the violent threats. 

Growing up in her family's motel in a majority-white town, she recalled how her parents' accents and the family's religious traditions made them different. "We felt it every day … So many of us who feel marginalized, we hold all this anger inside, and we can't express it without potentially serious consequences," she said. 

Make sure you grab one of our Young Adult Generational Healing boxes! This box features All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir, plus 3 beautiful gifts that bring this captivating tale to LIFE! Remember to subscribe to save on future boxes!

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