A Tempest of Tea / Hafsah Faizal / Book Review


Arthie Casimir is known to be two things: the master of Spindrift, a prestigious teahouse, and a master criminal. The second, of course, nobody can prove. Her prestigious tearoom might be known to transform into an illegal vampire bloodhouse by dark, but the authorities have never been able to provide actual evidence of that. With Arthie as good as she is, they likely never will...

Until her establishment is threatened in another way: eviction. And not because she isn't paying her dues. The authorities might not have proof, but they know the right strings to pull. With her legacy on the line, Arthie has no choice but to strike a deal to keep Spindrift safe--even if it means working on the "right" side of the law for once. But this is a job she can't do alone.

Gathering a group of coconspirators and rebels, Arthie sets out to do what's never been done before: infiltrate the highest rings of vampire society, the Athereum itself, and steal a ledger they've taken from the Crown. At every turn, there's a way for this plan to go disastrously wrong, but Arthie trusts her team. Even when she shouldn't.



I'm somewhat conflicted in this review, because I loved every single element of this book. But at the same time, I found my attention constantly wandering. I think this is more a me problem than anything else, because there's nothing here that isn't really well done.


Tools Against an Empire You know what I like? Fantasy that isn't just Eurocentric. And that's definitely what we get here. But more than that, this fantasy world has elements of colonial power, and the team of misfits that come together to pull of their epic heist... are also actively working against that colonial power that has directly affected their lives, their cultures, and every aspect of their identity. They're caught up under the influence of an empire, strangers in the land they live in, and they face persecution on the basis of ethnic identity and skin color. And they're not ready to take that lying down. And I really, really like that.

Love Triangle Love triangle isn't my favorite YA trope to come around again, but this is a love triangle done right. Because none of the corners, if you will, of this triangle are quite right for each other, and yet the attraction is still obvious. They're not perfect matches, but they wouldn't necessarily be bad matches. They're also not entangled with one another already. There are no commitments, said or unsaid, between any of them. There's just the sort of tension of what could be, and if a love triangle has to exist, I'd much prefer it like this--possibilities, not "I have to choose!" You know what I mean?

Intricate The world that Hafsah Faizal creates really comes alive. Every nook and cranny of White Roaring feels real, from the shady vampire haunts in the lower classes to the glitzy chambers of the vampire elites. There are shady dealings, lots of scheming, and a bit of conspiracy. Blood and imported coconuts, knife fights and gunshot wounds that come with a touch of magic: this is the absolute best type of fantasy world because it is a world wholly its own and wholly realized.


This book is incredibly well-written, from the plot and character arcs to the intricate worldbuilding. But the writing, too, is intricate and not necessarily in the best way. There were times when I would find myself distracted, and I'd have to go back to reread sentences or paragraphs at a time because each word was so important to the writing. If I missed any little thing, I was quickly lost. This isn't necessarily a problem, but it's not a light read, that's for sure. Intricate

The biggest complaint I think I have with this book is that, in all of the intricacies of its worldbuilding and great writing, the sense of tension was a little bit lost. I think this comes down to timeline trouble. I knew they were on a time crunch, because it said as much... but I never had a great sense of exactly how much of a crunch that time crunch was. I didn't know exactly how quickly, on what timeline, all of these little pieces had to be executed. The tension at times felt low, which is unfortunate in a high-stakes heist fantasy like this one. Timeline Troubles

There was a whole cast of characters working behind the scenes in this book--specifically, those employed by Spindrift. And we didn't see much of these characters. Which is absolutely fine, except for the few times when their names are dropped in at (seemingly) random. Because they're mentioned by name so rarely, these instances shocked me out of the story as I tried to recall who was who and why they were significant. Not a major problem, but anything that pulls you out of the story, I think, is at least a bit of a problem. Who?



Fans of Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows will love this ragged band of misfit criminals. Those who enjoyed Emily Lloyd-Jones's The Drowned Woods will like this new high-stakes heist fantasy.


Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Date: February 20, 2024
Series: Blood and Tea
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. It's so wonderful to see Hafsah's books out in the world. I remember when she was blogging. Amazing! So glad you enjoyed this one

  2. Glad there was more you liked about this one than not. I've struggled with YA novels in recent years, and I'm a little tired of vampires, so this one might not be a good fit for me.

  3. I love your unique way of reviewing ER! I’m glad that you enjoyed this one.

  4. I definitely can relate to both appreciating AND struggling with the intricacy of this one. I had a similar challenge with my most recent read.

  5. possibilities, not having to choose. If you're going to have a love triangle, that's the way to do it. It sounds like this has a lot to offer, if you're in the mood for it and don't mind having to be invested. The world does sound amazing.

  6. This book is new to me, and I'm quite intrigued by the story. I'm not a big fan of love triangles because I feel they're unnecessary for the story, so it's good to know this book does it right, but I can see how the story being intricate is both a pro and a con.

  7. Sounds good. I haven't heard of this author before. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wonderful review ER! I can definitely relate when it comes to intricate writing. Sometimes going back and rereading can take you out of it, but I'm happy you enjoyed this story!

  9. Her name sounds so familiar, dunno if I have seen another book, or actually read her. Must check :)


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