Reviews, Special Review

ARC Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Tell the Wind and Fire

GoodReads Summary:

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…

My Review:

Gotta be honest… I didn’t finish reading this book. I managed to get through 50 percent before calling it quits. I just wasn’t able to get into the plot and I didn’t connect with the characters.

Lucie is a girl who did whatever it took to help free her father at the beginning of the book. And throughout the rest, she just stuck quietly by her boyfriend’s side, afraid he might find out about who she was… and who she wasn’t. For a character who could’ve been so strong and resilient, she felt quite 2 dimensional.

The world itself was colorless. I didn’t understand the true different been Light New York and Dark New York. Where were they in respect to each other? Side by side? Dark underneath? And it didn’t make sense that one day someone discovered light magic and that was it, the world changed. The world building needed to be more substantial and thought out.

I had a difficult time with the doppelganger idea. What is the plot point of bringing in a doppelganger at the start, having Lucie treat him as an equal, helping him, and then not seeing him again for half the book. I thought, maybe Lucie was meant to be with him. By meeting him, interacting with him, showing him her true self, she would finally allow herself to tell Ethan the truth about her past. The doppelganger would give her a chance to return to Dark City and she would help with the revolution. It is made quite  clear Lucie doesn’t agree with the counsel- those in charge of the laws in Light City. From what I scanned of the last 50%, this doesn’t happen.

The counsel itself was a confusing group. Did they make the laws for the nation? Or just for Light New York and Dark New York? How was the rest of the nation handling the magic? What were the far reaching implications of the doppelgangers and light/dark magic.

Lots of plot structuring didn’t make sense. And now looking at the description, it doesn’t make sense either. I think if there was more editing/re-reading the plot holes could’ve been filled and some of the run-on thoughts of the characters could’ve been deleted.


Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, Clarion Books for giving me the chance to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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4 thoughts on “ARC Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan”

  1. Ah that’s too bad. The cover looked so promising. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but…I totally do!

  2. I have to ask: Did you go into this book considering it as a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities? (Related: have you read A Tale of Two Cities?) I’m a bit concerned by the reviews I’ve seen that have been ignoring that aspect of the novel because I think it’s an important one in terms of the world building and also the narrative style which is VERY Dickensian despite the added SRB snark (see: Carwyn). The doppleganger aspect is also central to the source material.

    I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I just think through that lens a lot of the story makes more sense as do a lot of Lucie’s choices. I love A Tale of Two Cities and wound up really enjoying Tell the Wind and Fire too with the added elements of urban fantasy and feminism. (It’s hard to explain without spending way too much time on the plot of both books but I thought it was great how SRB subverted and reinterpreted Lucie as a not only a new character but as a heroine in her own right.)

    1. I actually had no idea that it was a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities. If I had known it was a Dickens retelling, I don’t think I would have requested or read it. After I DNFed it, I saw more people reading it and then the comment about the retelling, I was like “ah! That’s why I didn’t like it.” But I’m glad you enjoyed it. I have seen a lot of reviews where people didn’t like it; I wonder if they knew about the retelling aspect. And I may have been a bit harsher than I intended to be.

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