I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
Published by Clarion Books on April 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, General, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, BAM, Book Depository
Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.
The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…
Tell the Wind and Fire is based on Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and comes with a fantasy twist. New York City is divided between the Light City and the Dark City – a distinction that creates a world of inequality based on birth and magical abilities. Light is good, Dark is bad, or is it?
Our story follows Lucie, a girl born in the Dark city who earns her way into the Light city. Her experiences border on shock that the Light city is so comfortable while those in the Dark City are condemned to live in poverty and darkness. Meanwhile, the Dark City uses Lucie’s rise as a motivation for a bloody revolution.
In the end, I found Tell the Wind and Fire a pleasant and entertaining read, but after some time away from the story I’ve come to realize the novel was not particularly memorable. The world building, strife and larger issues explored in this novel were more memorable than he characters themselves. I needed to return to the novel to remind myself of most of the plot concerning the love triangle and Ethan’s own issues with his family.
After some time away from this novel I’ve realized that overall my response to this novel is largely a “meh” feeling with memories of pleasant prose. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a bad thing, I really enjoyed this novel, but it didn’t impact me very deeply emotionally.
Of course our heroine meets her prince charming in Ethan, who is the son of one of the ruling families in the Light City. I honestly found myself rolling my eyes at how attractive Ethan was, how powerful his family was and how kind Ethan is regardless of his family’s beliefs. The ensuing love triangle pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the romance aspect of this novel for me. Sorry, just love triangles are never written well or necessary. Period. Tell the Wind and Fire is no exception, the plot could have been further developed without any kissy face with another guy.
Fortunately, I liked the world building with magic, the story of the struggles between opposing peoples, the overarching historical details and the lovely imagery. Although Tell the Wind and Fire could have come with more details of where the magic came from in the first place rather than “it just appeared” and the disjuncture between “dark” and “light” magic is never explained in a satisfying manner – the story has some serious promise. Tell the Wind and Fire is a standalone, but is written more like a first installment of a series which I believe will largely hinder this novel in satisfying its intended market. YA readers love their series.
Brennan creates a beautiful city of light and contrasts the city of dark exceptionally well. I found it easy to be enveloped in a world where the virtues of birth makes you part of the ruling class or part of the lower caste. I especially enjoyed the idea of a bloody revolution where a people oppressed fight against their oppressors, but is led by a leader who creates the revolution for very personal and very wrong reasons.
This was my first novel by Brennan, but I was pleasantly surprised by the writing style and the interesting plot she created. I will definitely check out more of her work when I get the chance to compare it to Tell The Wind and Fire.
This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy, classic novel re-adaptations, strong female heroines, struggles between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (although in this novel the good and evil aren’t entirely obvious) and young adult stand alone novels. I suggest this as something to read to enjoy the language and world building rather than looking for the next “book boyfriend” or new relationship to “ship” – I don’t really think Luice and Ethan were on the same level as many YA “power couples”.