Review: Tell the Wind and Fire

WARNING: THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED FOR THE SAKE OF POTENTIAL SPOILERS.

YOU CAN FIND THE FULL REVIEW AT GOODREADS.COM

Tell the Wind and Fire
Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Thank you so much to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for granting me a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for a review**

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” (Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)

I did not know what to expect from this novel; I have never read Ms. Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy series and am only familiar with her through her contribution to The Bane Chronicles. I could not, however, help but be drawn in by what this novel promised: a fantastical/paranormal take upon Dickens’ famous serial novel of the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities.

Dickens may be hard to swallow for many people, but I happen to love his work, especially Cities. With its teems of resurrection, light versus dark, and social justice, it’s hard for a reader not to get swept away by sweeping romanticism of its tragedy. And while Ms. Brennan gets so very close with her own adaptation, she still falls just a hair short.

The strongest parts of Tell the Wind and Fire are when it focuses upon its setting; when it really digs its claws into its source material and starts spinning its own web from it. While it is, admittedly, sometimes a little clunky — did we need to call the revolutionaries the sans merci when this is set in NYC and not France? — it is still both gripping and intriguing. As the novel progresses, Brennan continues to pitch up the tension and let us see a world on edge begin to fall apart entirely into mob-fueled chaos. I should have been jaded, but Wind’s own tragic conclusion still managed to grip me; maybe not as much as when I first read Cities, but its a testament to Brennan’s commitment to the Dickens narrative that made her retelling so successful in that regard.

view spoiler

Despite all that, I adored this book’s concept. Adding magic and doppelgängers to this retelling of A Tale of Two Cities was fantastic and the back third of the novel — especially the finale — is the highlight of the entire book. Like I said, I was emotionally gripped by the last chapter almost in spite of my issues with the characters because Brennan fully committed to her premise and her world. It may be a clunky, sometimes uneven world, but she’s in it 110% and it shows in all the best ways.

I highly recommend picking up this book — even if, like me, you roll your eyes bit — because the strength of this retelling’s creativity outshines and outweighs its flaws.

View all my reviews

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