Review: Tell the Wind and Fire

Book Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
book cover Book title Tell the Wind and Fire
Series/standalone Standalone
Author Sarah Rees Brennan
Pages 386
Year published 2016
Category | Genre Young Adult | Urban Fantasy
Rating 2.5star

Gorgeous cover, competent writing, boring characters.

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

First of all, a disclaimer. This was my #1 most anticipated release of 2016. I mean, there’s no way it’s not going to work, right? I mean, that cover! That promising synopsis! That preview chapter that gives off The Demon’s Lexicon (the author’s debut novel which I LOVE) vibe! They all promised me something extraordinarily enjoyable… and it just wasn’t.

Official Summary

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 the young men’s deadly connection, 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?


Setting & World-building

Tell the Wind & Fire is a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, a book I haven’t read so I couldn’t tell you how similar they are. What I can tell you is that TTWAF was set on alternate New York City. This version of New York was split into two parts, the Light city and the Dark city. The Light magicians ruled the whole city, condemning the Dark magicians to live in a separate, terrible part of the city. It was set in the middle of a revolution to overthrow the city’s rulers, led by a group called sans-merci.

The world-building was okay, it wasn’t extraordinary. TTWAF was sort of an urban fantasy, but in alternate city so I was hoping to see more differences between our world and this alternate world, but everything, other than the separation into two cities and the existence of magic, exudes a similar vibe to our modern world. Even the magic wasn’t really ‘there’ in the sense of it didn’t affect the people and their way of living that much. I mean you don’t need to make teleportation as a default mode of transportation or make people live in the cloud just because there’s magic, but I was expecting something less… normal.


I don’t get them. Lucie, the main character, was boring. Her love interest was even more plain and there’s the doppelganger who was just not interesting. Even the promise of diversity by adding a character wearing a hijab felt like an afterthought. There’s very little character development throughout the story, basically just Lucie feeling tired of being bullied to act like a good girl.

I was hoping the doppelganger would offer some much needed humor, but nope. He was not even that witty.

It’s really disappointing for me because I knew what Rees Brennan capable of. This is the author who made me laugh and cry within the same pages in her two previous series. Seriously, I quoted The Demon’s Lexicon and the Lynburn’s Legacy all the time. I even have an Alan Ryves t-shirt.

Plot & narrative

If there’s one thing going for TTWAF, it is its pace. The book never linger too long at one single scene. It didn’t waste time telling you things most people wouldn’t care about. It just kept going. Some people might think it’s too fast-paced, but honestly there were times when the pace was the only thing that made me keep reading.

At the beginning, the story was not that interesting. You got Lucie, a girl who just wanted to keep her loved ones safe and doesn’t really care about saving the world. You also got an infodump through Lucie’s monologue. Nothing really new. It picks up in the last third of the book when the twists revealed and the revolution reached its peak. Unfortunately, at that point, it was a little too late to prevent some people from DNF’ing this book.

The ending was alright. I still have some unanswered questions about characters motive, but the story was wrapped up neat enough as sort-of open ending.


I was promised a beautiful heartbreaking story. It might be heartbreaking if only I care about the characters. The problem is I didn’t.

The most heartbreaking part about reading this book is the ‘after’ part, when I have to rate it on goodreads and write a review and confess that although Sarah Rees Brennan is my hero and I believe her intention is good, Tell the Wind and Fire doesn’t work for me.

Final score

2.5 stars (out of 5 stars)

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3 thoughts on “Review: Tell the Wind and Fire

    1. Team Human or Bane Chronicles? lol. Neither was very good anyway, IMO. Although I might have given them 5* (it was my early days using GR and I gave everything 4* or 5* hahaha).
      Her most critically acclaimed works was The Lynburn Legacy, although I prefer The Demon’s Lexicon. Sarah Rees has a sense of humor that will certainly annoy some people, but I love it. Tell the wind and fire doesn’t even have that to salvage it so yes I’m disappointed. I think it’s great that she took risk to write book with darker tone, but this one just didn’t work.

      1. I read around half of one of the Bane Chronicles short stories, but didn’t really care for it, so I stopped. I read Team Human, and though I gave it a four at the time I probably wouldn’t have finished if I’d read it more recently.

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