Friday, 19 February 2016

Tell the Wind and Fire

By Sarah Rees Brennan



Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…

Publication date: April 5th 2016

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 3.4 / 5
My Thoughts:

I haven’t read Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities but, based on the author's note, some elements of Tell the Wind and Fire are based on it. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Rees Brennan’s previous books so when I was approved on NetGalley for an ARC of TTWAF I had to request it ASAP. 

The story is set in a New York divided between Light and Dark magic, both sides battling against each other and a power shift when the Darkness begins to overpower the Light. The Light/Dark world was an interesting concept but felt a leeeetle simplistic for my liking. I'm used to Brennan's imaginative and unusual plots so a fight between Light and Dark, when Light magicians aren't always right and good and vice versa was a bit, well, boring. However, I must say that TTWAF was a much darker YA read than I expected from Brennan.

Happiness is self-sabotage, a mean trick that your mind plays on you. It makes you careless, makes you lose your grip, and once you lose your grip, you lose everything. You certainly aren’t happy anymore.
Lucie is divided between the two cities since she was born and raised in the Dark city, but has spent the last few years, since her father's rescue, in the Light city with Ethan. She reminded me of Katniss from the Hunger Games; seen as a beacon of hope and a symbol of the rebellion but isn’t willing to actively participate in the rebellion itself. She wants nothing more than to keep the people she loves safe, but unfortunately everyone she loves is in danger by association. Lucie is a likeable character in a difficult situation with a difficult upbringing but I always felt that there was so much more she could do for the peace if she tried. She’s happy to fake smile and pretend it’s all okay so that she doesn’t upset anyone and ensure her father's safety, but as the MC I wished she had shown more courage and taken more risks. She's too scared to make a move out of place just in case the safety and protection given by the Strykers, is taken away from her. Don’t get me wrong, there were times when she put herself in immense danger, but those were few and far between. Plus, she takes risks with Carwyn, always with the best intentions, which I found weird because it was all out of character for her. 
I said I just wanted to help people, to ease their suffering, but that was a lie. I didn’t do it to help anyone but myself.  I wasn’t showing real compassion for strangers, I wasn’t showing what I really felt. Real grief is ugly and uncomfortable. People look away from grief the same way they look away from severed limbs or gaping wounds. What they want is pain like death on a stage: beautiful, bloodless, presented for their entertainment. 

My favourite character was Carwyn. As the ‘evil doppelganger’ everyone is expected to hate him because doppelgangers don't have a soul (or so they say). When Carwyn pretends to be Ethan Stryker, he purposely mocks Ethan, his family and life to wind everyone up. Despite him being the ‘dark’ version of Ethan, his bitter humour made the story lighter and fun to read. His actions were rather predictable, especially the ending, but I still enjoyed his part in it. 
I spoke through my teeth. “I’m afraid I have to go home to Penelope. I have to be there for her and Marie right now.”“Oh, becase one of your adopted family has disappeared into the Dark city, possibly never to return? Of course. How insensitive of me. Please forgive me. I will think of you fondly during every course at dinner, and twice during the cheese course.”
Ethan was undoubtedly the most underrated character in this story. Although he has a huge role, we see very little of him throughout and only really get to learn about him at the very end. Initially, I was hoping Lucie and Carwyn would end up together because Ethan was portrayed as the boring ‘golden boy’ but after the ending, I’m glad she stayed true to Ethan!
“Why torture me, then?”His shadowed, moonlit face changed, amusement overcoming exhaustion, his mouth curling into a sly grin. “I said I wasn’t a criminal mastermind whose devious plans topple cities,” Carwyn told me. “I never said I was nice.”
Overall, a good read but not as exciting and fun as I had hoped. Sarah Rees Brennan’s wit flows through Carwyn’s character, which is probably the main reason why I’d recommend this book. Brennan is one of my favourite authors, which is why I expected much more, but there are many underlying messages about good and evil that I believe will be useful for younger readers.
The only choice, in the Light city or the Dark, was to be twisted or to break.


  1. I love a Tale of Two Cities, so this one sounds really interesting to me. Sorry it wasn't as complex as you were hoping for, though.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  2. I've read a few of Brennan's books but this one is still on my list. I haven't heard a lot about it, so thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

    Rachelle @ Shell's Stories