Book Review: Tell the Wind and Fire

Tell the Wind and Fire
Published by: Clarion Books
Publication Date: 5th April 2016
Page Count: 368
Source: advanced digital copy provided by publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy

New York is divided into two halves, the Light and the Dark. Light magic necessitated the divide, and Dark magicians, while needed for the Light to work, are feared and despised. Those from the Dark city cannot pass easily into the Light, but Lucie Manette has done it. When a weekend away with her boyfriend, Ethan, ends in an unexpected way, it's revealed that Ethan has a doppelganger, Carwyn. A soulless creature created in the course of saving Ethan's life, Carwyn is forced to cover his face with a hood and collar at all times.

This is a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities. Its famous opening, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness..." gives Tell the Wind and Fire its starting point. In the Light half of the city, all is well. Light magic powers everything and the Light Council keeps order. In the Dark part of the city, there is no hope, only despair. The residents refer to themselves as the Buried and seethe with resentment. A revolution is brewing and Lucie is its poster girl. 

This book had a really interesting premise, but for me, it didn't fully deliver. The magic system wasn't adequately explained and it wasn't clear why the divide was needed between Light and Dark in the first place. I wanted to understand more about Light magic and how it powered the city. I wanted to know how the divided city had come about, and why. Basically, I wanted more world building. Consequently it took me quite a while to get into the story. Things didn't really get interesting for me until almost half way through.

Lucie, as first person narrator, spends much of her time lamenting her mistakes, and then making more of them. So many problems could have been avoided if she just talked to the people around her instead of making assumptions about their motives. Her boyfriend, Ethan, one of the most privileged residents of the Light city seems lovely and devoted to her, but he felt quite two dimensional for much of the book. Carwyn is by far the most interesting character. His motivation is unknown and he's unpredictable. A great combination. He was my favourite thing about the story.

Tell the Wind and Fire has its good points, but it just lacked an essential something.


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?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.


  1. That's interesting, because I read about half of this one and quit. I had the same problem with the magic -- the light/dark system wasn't adequately explained. I didn't buy in. If the second half is better, I might try it again....Thanks.


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