A Tempest of Tea

Books

An orphan and immigrant in the vast industrial city of White Roaring, Arthie Casimir has made a name for herself as the proprietor of Spindrift, an innovative teahouse situated at the intersection of the posh and working class sides of town. Alongside her adopted brother, Jin, Arthie is offering something unique at Spindrift—especially to the city’s vampire population, which is  tolerated but not entirely trusted, especially under the regime of the Ram, the country’s latest masked monarch. As policies shift from hands-off ignorance to active antagonism, the Casimirs realize the Ram intends for Spindrift to close, one way or another.

When Arthie receives a mysterious visit from Laith, a member of the Ram’s guard who claims to want to take down the Ram, she agrees to help, despite knowing Laith is hiding his true agenda. Joined by allies such as a talented forger from high society and a famous artist who happens to be a vampire, Arthie, Jin and Laith plan to challenge the Ram by stealing a ledger containing damning secrets.

With A Tempest of Tea, Hafsah Faizal (We Hunt the Flame) plugs fully into the young adult fantasy zeitgeist while exploring the violence of colonialism, as well as capitalism’s inextricable role in colonial expansion and conquest. Vampires are portrayed fairly traditionally, with characteristics seen throughout literature. Their sultry allure is on full display, and scenes where our young protagonists interact with the more mature vampires are among the novel’s strongest. While the multiple-perspective heist story is a familiar setup, A Tempest of Tea exemplifies many favored themes present throughout YA novels: reevaluating familial ties, validating chosen family and exploring trauma’s role in character development. Readers who enjoy Leigh Bardugo and Roshani Chokshi, are excited about vampires coming back into vogue, or are looking for historical fantasy and fast-paced, alluring drama will surely drink up A Tempest of Tea.

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