A Tempest Of Tea
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Book Review: A Tempest Of Tea (Blood and Tea#1) by Hafsah Faizal

One of my favorite things about fantasy novels is how it can serve as a medium to look closely at stories of colonization, and the impact of its damage that can be still felt today even after generations have passed. So of course when I heard about Hafsa Faizal’s A Tempest of Tea, I had it on my list of most anticipated books to read in 2024

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I mean, it’s got everything that I absolutely adore. Fantasy heist? Check. A scathing criticism of colonization and white privilege? Check. Ragtag group of misfits who become each other’s found family? Check. A badass gunslinger? Check. Hot, artistic vampires? Also, check.

With all that said, you’d think I’d be in love by now, right? Unfortunately, even though A Tempest of Tea was a fun, fast-paced novel with an intriguing plot, it just missed the mark for me, and I blame it mostly on the story being rushed too quickly. Here’s my full review.

~ Synopsis: A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal ~

A Tempest of Tea book cover

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Release Date: 20th February, 2024
Trigger Warnings: Death, violence (moderate), death of parents

~ Book Review: A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal ~

The story revolves around Arthie Casimir, an orphan turned criminal mastermind living in the heart of London-inspired fictional city of White Roaring. Arthie runs a successful teahouse business that turns into an illegal bloodhouse by night, and uses her establishment to learn secrets of the citizens of White Roaring, which she uses according to her discretion to blackmail and strong-arm people into doing her bidding. 

The real plot starts when Arthie’s business is threatened, and the only way she sees out of this is to pull off a near-impossible heist that would take down the monarchy itself. So Arthie sets out to recruit a bunch of other misfits, but as the crew dive deeper into their mission, they uncover a conspiracy that goes beyond what they could have comprehended.

This setup was just so perfect. I mean, on one hand you have this amazing adventure heist story. Then on the other hand, you have this incredible opportunity to bring up conversations about colonization and Western imperialism–and more specifically for A Tempest of Tea–the lasting, irreparable damage that the East India Company caused to countries like Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many others, in the name of “trade”.

But the problem of a novel of such massive scale is that it cannot afford to limit itself to a few hundred pages. In order to tell such a daring story, A Tempest of Tea needed to focus more on interweaving the backstories of the characters and the history that inspired this book along with the plot of an adventurous heist gone wrong.

Instead, to my disappointment, A Tempest of Tea focuses a little too unnecessarily on the romance between the characters, and ultimately had to rely too much on telling versus showing in order to explain to the readers why Arthie was so eager to see the monarchy be toppled. 

That being said, I absolutely LOVED Arthie and all the main characters of our ragtag crew in A Tempest of Tea. I especially loved the little nod to the found family trope with Jin and Arthie’s relationship, and the chemistry between Arthie and Mateo was just chef’s kiss.

There is something to be said about the representation of course. A Tempest of Tea features the stories of diverse characters, and is told by an author who herself is a Sri Lankan/American Muslim woman. As such, I LOVED the way the author didn’t shy away from talking about the uglier history of Western imperialism.

That being said, I did feel that for a book where the main characters are up against systematic, institutionalized racism, it’s necessary to have more than just one antagonist, and to develop those antagonists so they are as complex as they were in history. Given the scope of this novel, A Tempest of Tea needed more than a mysterious, masked villain–it needed to confront the real power structures that were at play.

All things considered, I would recommend A Tempest of Tea for those who are just starting out with the fantasy genre, and are looking for diverse stories that are born from influences of different historical contexts and cultures. If you loved books like An Ember In The Ashes, then A Tempest of Tea would definitely be an amazing next read for you.

Are you fan of adventure/heist stories? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Book Review: A Tempest Of Tea (Blood and Tea#1) by Hafsah Faizal



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