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A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal


 

Xolo Score 4.25/5

 

Hafsah Faizal’s A Tempest of Tea takes readers on a thrilling journey through a world brimming with magic, corruption, and vampires. Owner of the local teahouse by day and blood-house speakeasy by night, Arthie, is an orphaned brown-skinned immigrant who has achieved great success despite living in the imperialist country of Ettenia that deplores immigrants of the country they invade. Spindrift’s co-proprietors, Arthie and her adopted brother Jin, have amassed valuable secrets and knowledge of Ettenia’s wealthiest and most elite vampires and humans. But when the corrupt masked monarch seizes Spindrift, Arthie refuses to go down without a fight. She assembles an eclectic team of misfits and plans to infiltrate an elite vampire society to retrieve a stolen ledger, leverage it, and save her precious business.


 

*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***

 

Arthie is no hero. She is a resilient immigrant willing to do what it takes to survive in the streets of White Roaring. She’s pragmatic, strategic, and cold-hearted because that’s what it means to live in a country that invaded your home and caused you to lose everything you hold dear. “What lives the Ettenian soldiers in red uniforms hadn’t stolen, were claimed either by disease or deforestation that spawned, landslides and floods in a country, unprepared for such a wrath, simply because they wanted to make room for crops like rubber and tea.” Arthie’s walls are as tall as skyscrapers out of self-preservation. Still, her softness escapes through small cracks in the form of her brother Jin. Jin is coded of East-Asian descent and shares Arthie’s frustrations and grief about a family taken from him by a country that sees him as low class. Their relationship is at the heart of the story. We see how the two helped each other reconstruct their fractured lives around each other and their shared goals. As the story progresses and the stakes rise, their relationship is tested and pushed.


Although Arthie and Jin trust each other deeply, the same can’t be said of the rag-tag team they assemble for their heist. “Loyalty was easily bought in a country that valued profit over all else.” So it’s no surprise that each person has an ulterior motive for joining Arthie, adding a layer of tension throughout the book that keeps the reader wondering who will come out on top. The multi-POV structure allows for a deep understanding of each character’s actions and intentions that play out in a rewarding and unexpected twist. However, Arthie’s character leaves a lot to be desired that is hopefully explored in the highly anticipated sequel.


A Tempest of Tea is a captivating and enchanting YA Fantasy that will delight fans of heists led by morally gray and complex characters.

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*Disclaimer: a copy was sent by the publisher

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