Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan


In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Published by Clarion Books.

A copy of this book was received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Lucie Manette’s New York is divided in two: the Dark city, home to magicians who use Dark magic, and the Light city, home to those who use Light magic.  Lucy was born in the Dark, but won her way through to the Light, where she lives as a celebrity, famous boyfriend Ethan and all.  Until a stranger appears who wears the same face as Ethan…

I had really high hopes for this book.  Brennan is an author much favoured by many (including friends whose opinions I hold high) and I loved the idea of an urban fantasy being spun off A Tale of Two Cities.  And I loved a lot about the setup for the book – the idea of the city being split into Light and Dark was interesting (although somewhat too reminiscent of many books that glut YA at the moment) and Brennan added a lot of extra little touches – the magic systems were initially intriguing, and the idea of the doppelgangers really had me hooked.

For a while, anyway.

Unfortunately, so much of that promise never developed beyond the shiny surface of the ideas – things are as they are simply because it serves the plot, and nothing is ever pushed far or really explored.  I find this trend in a lot of YA (and lets face it, adult-targeted books as well) really frustrating.  Authors have these amazing ideas, but as soon as you poke at the world, it falls over, and nothing ever really gets pushed beyond this narrow little path for the characters to walk down.

The characters were also somewhat of a letdown.  Lucie herself is supposed to be the Strong Female Heroine, and yet I never really felt at of that from her.  Ethan remained a cipher with a pretty face.  Carwyn, I kind of loved – his dialogue in particular was incredibly strong at times, but like the setting, he was never really pushed anywhere.  All of the characters felt far too much like they were just pieces in some shiny board game, and none ever really felt like they translated into real people.

I didn’t hate this, and I suspect that a lot of readers will enjoy it, as long as they don’t think too hard about how this world would even run.  Mostly, I’m just frustrated, because it felt very much like something that should have been better.

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