A Tempest of Tea book cover art
Books, Reviews

A Tempest of Tea Review: Stop in for Tea and a Heist

A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal, the first book in the Blood and Tea duology, centers on Arthie and Jin Casimir, siblings by choice who run the Spindrift tea room. In addition to the obvious — serving tea — Spindrift also caters to the vampires of White Roaring by serving blood after hours.

When Spindrift is threatened, Arthie reluctantly joins forces with Laith, a member of the Horned Guard, who proposes that they steal the Ram’s secret ledger. It’s hidden away in the Athereum, the vampires’ secret society, that’s impossible to access.

To infiltrate the Athereum and pull off this heist, Arthie needs to expand her crew, risking the chance that these people may betray her somewhere down the line.

A Tempest of Tea Large

 

She’ll need a forger to help get them inside, so Arthie recruits Flick, a young woman from a high-society family. Next up, the job requires information on the layout of the Athereum, so Arthie turns to Matteo, one of Spindrift’s vampire clients.

However, Arthie and company soon find themselves involved in a much larger conspiracy than saving Spindrift, and it’ll take all of them to survive and unmask the truth.

A Tempest of Tea is a decent introduction to a new duology. It does the heavy lifting of introducing us to a new world and gets us invested in these characters and the mess they find themselves in. And, overall, it’s pretty successful.

The strength of this novel lies in the world itself and the characters of Arthie and Jin. They are captivating characters, and their sibling relationship helps ground the novel and helps you to understand Arthie and her motivations more.

However, the decision to make this a multiple-point-of-view story doesn’t quite work.

Interestingly, Faizal shows restraint by not giving everyone in Arthie’s crew their own chapters, but the story would work better if it was told just in Arthie’s point of view or in a general third person.

At times, Jin and Flick’s chapters only serve as a way to characterize Arthie, and while you could make an argument for needing Jin’s view on the events, there’s no reason we need Flick’s. We don’t gain anything worthwhile from her chapters.

There’s one instance toward the end of the book where her chapter adds a little bit extra to the reading experience, but that one moment isn’t enough to justify the rest of her chapters.

The other main issue A Tempest of Tea has is the pacing.

The story rushes through some of the reveals, eager to move on to the next plot point. This deprives us of the chance to process what just happened.

There should be some fallout when Arthie reveals a deeply-held secret, but we don’t see that either. Instead, it’s on to the next plot-centric step, which is such a shame because Faizal has some great little twists and turns throughout the book.

It would have been fantastic if we were allowed to explore what it means that this new information is revealed.

This makes it hard to get invested in these characters and their relationships. It’s clear that the plot comes first, so you become conditioned to expect little to no follow-through when a twist is revealed.

At the end of the day, the good outweighs the bad (not that it’s really all that bad), and you find yourself wishing you had the next book in your hands. I’m sure we’re in for a thrilling conclusion to this story.

Stray Thoughts
  • Flick is right; they need to name the kitten.
  • Arthie’s love interests and her fixation on the romantic tension doesn’t work.
  • Jin and Flick’s romance is more than enough for book one; let Arthie’s be more of a slow burn that kicks in during book two.
  • It’s hard not to make Six of Crows comparisons.
  • Who doesn’t love a good heist?

A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal is available wherever you buy books.

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Allison is in a love affair with books and television that doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon. Slightly damaged fictional characters are her weakness. She loves to spend her free time curled up with a cat and a book to read or a show to watch. Allison is a Tomatometer-approved critic (Rotten Tomatoes).

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