Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Book Review: A Tempest of Tea

A Tempest of Tea
by Hafsah Faizal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, rounding down because I’m so disappointed in the ending. A Tempest of Tea is a pretty good book until about 80% of the way through. The characters are (mostly) believable and likeable (if morally subject) in their own ways. The setting is well put together, the world building is vague (but that didn’t seem like a deal breaker at first), and the plot is intriguing. Seems like a heist in a fantasy realm with some minor romances possibly bubbling up on the side… and then something happens that felt so out of character, that came off awkward, that just ruined every page that came after. It’s the first of a couple ‘bigger’ reveals; and it came off as cheap. It annoyed me as it didn’t feel natural (and the lack of world building just makes it seem more abrupt and ‘cheapens’ the whole set-up, as had we known more it wouldn’t have been such a big surprise…), and overall just irritated me. I am not a fan of books that change the rules or seem to leave rules out just to have reveals. I like when reveals are done in a way whereas soon as I read the reveal I can recall all the hints throughout the book, even if I never guessed what the reveal would be. In those books where I do guess the reveal I’m still less annoyed than with cheap reveals because at least it feels in line with what has happened and fits the narrative.

The reveal also leads us into a very odd little section and ending. Things are happening quickly as its climax time, and suddenly all the romances are brought together (presumably?) because characters are in peril. Another troupe I am not a big fan of. What’s worse is how lame and stilted the romantic moments come off as, and the lack of gothic allure (set up earlier in the book) is suddenly gone. It’s as though someone told Hafsah Faizal she had to put romance in her book and so she did. It would have been so much better with teasers and adhering to the less is more philosophy (to clarify it’s not raunchy romance or anything it just feels forced). Also less is more (should) make readers want to carry onto the next book in the series (not yet published). Instead this big ending made me go, meh. It’s truly unfortunate as Faizal has a knack for writing great one liner quotes, has cute little jokes throughout and real talent for sarcasm in her characters actions and words. But none of that matters if the core story and world building is not there. The plot was good, the characters (mostly) good, the writing very good; and yet I walk away from this one just feeling ‘meh’.

Is that a recommendation you might ask? I couldn’t say. If you love mild YA vampires then yes I might recommend you read this. However, if you are hoping for something more gothic or intimate then A Tempest of Tea will likely disappoint you in the end. It just feels too immature; not because it’s YA, but because the ending doesn’t seem like the same narrative. An unfortunate situation as the potential is all there; but final delivery must be bang on (for me) to make a book rise above being more than just good enough.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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