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Lebanon Trail High School News

The Vanguard

Hafsah Faizal’s A Tempest of Tea Review

“That was the nature of man; born to nurture, determined to destroy” ― Hafsah Faizal, A Tempest of Tea
Carmen Laveglia Marin
Picture depicting the naked cover of the book, alongside with the spine art.

Hafsah Faizal, the New York Times bestseller author of the Sands of Arawiya duology, is known for her poetic prose and lustrous descriptions in fantasy novels. She debuted with “We Hunt The Flame” in 2019, and since the book’s release she has amassed a loyal following of fans that praise her for her technique and craft. Understandably, when she announced her next novel, “A Tempest of Tea” in 2021, her fans were thrilled. The little hints the author talked about in her social media platforms only served to further the excitement in the fandom.  


This book was pitched as a mixture of Peaky Blinders (a British period crime drama television series) with vampires and a dash of Arthurian legend. It stars a witty and cunning criminal mastermind, Arthie Casimir, who runs a tearoom called Spindrift. Spindrift turns into an illicit blood house at night where they cater to the vampires of the city. This crisp and alluring premise was enough to have me hooked from the very beginning, however, during the lead-up to the book’s publication on Feb. 20, 2024, Faizal mentioned something that augmented my excitement for the book. As she was talking about how instrumental this book had been for her, she mentioned that, while its creation had begun “as [a] love letter to all things dapper…[she] realized couldn’t write [the novel] without acknowledging colonialism.” It’s vital to keep this in mind, especially after the author explained on Instagram that she grew up hearing stories about the many countries that colonized Sri Lanka (the country where her parents are from), and how fervently she believed that while “history might be written by the victors…erasure is a very different evil.” When I saw this I was extremely intrigued, not only because I had read her previous work and loved it, but also because commentary on world history always manages to catch my attention—especially when it uncovers truths that had been previously hidden. This is why, when the book was available at my local bookstore, I got my hands on it as soon as I could. 


The start of the novel is strong and eye-catching, its doses of mysteriousness and macabre balance the definitive enticement of a sparkling new fantasy with deft precision. Furthermore, I think that Faizal effectively incorporated British infrastructure and characteristics into the book’s setting to further her commentary on colonialism, and it helps sharpen the effect that Arthie’s backstory has on the readers, as it paints her story—while fictitious—as a very possible reality for many. However, while I did enjoy the overall plot of the book, and the interactions between the main group of characters, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with the writing. When I read “We Hunt The Flame”, one of the main things I liked most was the writing style, which is why I had gone into “A Tempest of Tea” expecting the same level of finesse and lavish storytelling, but in reality, its prose proved to be much drier and straightforward than I imagined. At some points, the writing was so curt and simplified that I was confused as to what was going on, and it proved to be a problem as the story progressed, as it became hard for me to follow the characters’ schemes and envision certain scenes in my mind. Adding on, I wish I could say that the pacing of the book made up for the writing, but alas, that disappointed me as well. I felt like several parts of the book needed to last longer so that the reader could fully marinate on what was going on, and other parts needed more context to make sense, or so the readers could utilize it for future reference. As a matter of fact, there are several plot twists toward the end of the book that I believe would’ve been more impactful if the writing and pacing of those momentous revelations, as well as previous foreshadowing, had been crafted with more care. If several important details had been ironed out further it would’ve made for a complete experience. 


This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading the book, because I did. It kept me entertained and I found myself rooting for the characters as they took on the city of White Roaring by its reigns and wreaked chaos every which way. The author established the basis for a cute found family, which I assume she’ll explore further in the following book. However, I did feel that, at times, Arthie’s character was somewhat two-dimensional; her motivations and aspirations all seemed too consumed by her rage, which is understandable given her backstory, but I also think that it worked against her as it made it seem as if she didn’t have depth, which isn’t true. Despite all this, I did like the main character a lot, I thought she was cool and interesting, and I appreciated her coldness. In fact, she reminded me of a less cruel version of Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. 


I gave this book a solid 6.5/10, and I’m looking forward to the second book in the duology, where hopefully the pacing and the writing will have been worked on further.

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About the Contributor
Carmen Laveglia Marin
Carmen Laveglia Marin, Staff Reporter
Carmen, a senior, loves to read and write books. She has enjoyed writing- especially fantasy- since she was eight, and she couldn’t wait to join Newspaper when she heard about it. Carmen also wants to pursue journalism in college, so she believes that Newspaper is the perfect opportunity for her. She also likes to practice her theatre scenes in her free time.
Contact Info - [email protected]

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