7   +   7   =  

Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author of the “Throne of Glass” (TOG) and “A Court of Thorns and Roses” (ACOTAR) series, is famous for giving her readers what are lovingly dubbed “book hangovers.”

And I’m no exception.

The second book of the ACOTAR series, “A Court of Mist and Fury,” was published during Advanced Placement tests in May, and I read it in June.

I still haven’t recovered.

So I wasn’t surprised when, after reading Maas’s newest installment, “Empire of Storms,” I was just as emotionally overwhelmed.

The long-awaited “Empire of Storms” was released Sept. 6 as the fifth book in TOG.

The series centers around Celaena Sardothien, an 18-year-old assassin offered freedom from the will of a heartless king when she is summoned to his castle.

“If she defeats 23 killers, thieves and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion,” Maas’s site says.

“But something evil dwells in the castle of glass – and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.”

Celaena’s story continues in “Empire of Storms,” in which Maas blends humor, romance and epic adventure in the perfect fantasy novel.

Within the emotional rollercoaster of hilarious banter and heart-stopping moments, Maas weaves a tale of dramatic intrigue and lightning-fast plot twists that truly lives up to the title.

In addition to a riveting plot line, Maas creates incredibly realistic characters that seem to walk off the pages.

She does this by so thoroughly detailing the characters – considering flaws, backstories, quirks and unique personalities – you can’t believe they’re fictional.

Maas also introduces seemingly insignificant elements in early books that, four books later, have become integral parts of the plot.

And while we’re stuck on her clever manipulation, we come to the last piece of Maas’s trifecta of skills: cliffhangers.

Although they don’t so much kill as mildly maim you, Maas’s thrilling cliffhangers will raise hairs even when you have chapters left to go.

“Empire of Storms” is marketed as a young adult novel, and there are mature scenes. However, they don’t detract from the story.

Throughout the series, readers see the incredible strength of the female characters on their thrilling journeys. Many young-adult fantasies center around romance, but Maas has found the perfect balance between relationships and independence.

Rather than being unnecessarily interjected, Maas’s more passionate scenes add to the reality of the storyline and its characters.

If I haven’t convinced you, look to the millions of fans – including my father, who hadn’t finished a fiction book in years and is now racing through the TOG series.

Not only is the plot an incredible thrill, Maas’s moving narrative will impress even the non-fiction sticklers and leave you wishing you could read it all over again.

By Sahej Claire

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