Fun and Twisty Vampiric Heist Fantasy

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4.5 stars
A Tempest of Tea is a fantastic start to Hafsah Faizal’s long-awaited sophomore series. It follows a ragtag found-family team of lovable lawbreakers as they engage on a heist to save what they love most—their tea room.
With vampires, real world anti-colonial politics, and Arthurian legend, this book had me hooked from premise alone.
I appreciated execution of the multi-POV. It struck the balance between giving necessary viewpoints, but not over-cluttering with constant POV switches. We read from Arthie, Jin, and Flick’s perspective, but instead of alternating equally (ie, chapter one is Arthie, chapter 2 is Jin, Chapter 3 is Flick, repeat), the POV seems to be solely determined by whose viewpoint is most necessary or impactful for any given scene. This means we get an almost equal amount of chapters from Arthie and Jin’s POV with a lesser smattering of Flick’s. Sometimes we would get three chapter’s from Jin in a row, other times we wouldn’t see his POV for almost 50 pages. It wasn’t equal, but it felt natural and helped the narrative flow smoothly.
The found family aspect of this book was easily my favorite part. I appreciated getting to know Arthie and Jin, and seeing their history and Spindrift’s history woven throughout the story, as well as seeing how Flick began to integrate into their little unit. It was one of the most compelling found family book’s I’ve read in a long time. I enjoyed the heist, though it felt more secondary to the characters. It was engaging and I was interested in watching it come together.
My only complaint, and the only thing keeping this book from reaching its full 5-star potential is the pacing of the reveals. There were plot twists in this book that were tons of fun, but I think they dragged out a little too far. It’s going to be difficult to make this point without spoilers, so bear with me if it’s quite vague and a little confusing.
There are many fun, twisty reveals but there are two major ones that apply to this. They are both revealed in the last 20% of the book, and then there are these things that happen in the climax that get their emotional weight from those reveals. However, since the reveal and then the subsequent culmination happen within 50 pages of each other, we haven’t had enough time to sit with and explore this new information, leaving what had the potential for an intense emotional reaction to instead be much more subdued. I felt as if, if I’d had another 50 pages exploring these reveals and their consequences, I would have been able to connect and engage with them more fully, and thus would have been more intensely impacted. Instead, these climactic events felt a little underwhelming, especially since I could picture the unmet potential.
That said, I am completely in love with these characters and this world, and I am desperately awaiting book 2. A Tempest of Tea has cemented Hafsah Faizal as one of my favorite authors, and I know that book 2 will be phenomenal.