“Sarah Rees Brennan writes with fine control and wit, and I suspect that word of this magical thriller will pass through the populace with the energy of wind, of fire.” —Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Egg and Spoon
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?
Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan weaves a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.
Brennan (Unspoken) delivers an intriguing but uneven romantic fantasy loosely based on Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. In the near future, New York City is divided between the ruling Light magicians of Light New York, who theoretically represent the forces of good, and Dark magicians, who huddle in the slums of Dark New York. Lucie Manette, born in the latter, now lives in Light New York protected by her boyfriend, Ethan, son of Charles Stryker, one of Light New York's ironfisted rulers. Yet Lucie, known as "the Golden Thread in the Dark," is also an iconic figure for the "sans-merci," violent revolutionaries who aim to end the Light's tyranny over the Dark. Further endangering Lucie and Ethan is Carwyn, Ethan's illegal doppelganger, the product of Charles Stryker's use of magic to save Ethan's life. Though Brennan's prose is powerful, it can also be somewhat strained as she works to create parallels with the language of Dickens's Tale, and her magical system, which involves Light magicians needing to be drained of blood by Dark magicians, is overly complex and at times confusing. Ages 12 up.
Futuristic Re-Telling of Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities"
I would like to thank Clarion Books & NetGalley for a copy of this e-ARC to review. Though I received this ebook for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review.
Goodreads Teaser: ""Tell the Wind & Fire" is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.
The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…"
A beautiful blend of action and emotional introspection, this story mirrors aspects of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities in more ways than simply appropriating the phrase used throughout the story by Lucie and her Aunt Leila. Even the title of the book is taken from the quote out of A Tale of Two Cities, "[sic], tell the wind and fire where to stop, but don't tell me." The lead character, Lucie Manatte is very loosely based upon a character of the same name in A Tale of Two Cities, right down to the golden hair, blue eyes, and being caretaker for her father, the doctor. Dickens' Lucie is also "...the golden thread...," and guided her father out of madness through the sheer strength of her will. I could go on and on with list of similarities between the two books, but I imagine this will suffice for those already familiar with this one of Dickens more famous stories.
Though the characters may have resemblances to other fictional characters, they are very much their own, unique beings. Lucie is a wonderful character in how she grows and develops throughout this story, as is Ethan, the boyfriend that saved her at one of the very lowest points in her life. They both have good hearts and mostly good intentions, they simply express them differently. Much of that has to do with their own misunderstandings of each other, and of themselves; a problem that is deftly handled as the story progresses. While I wanted Lucie to stand up for her beliefs, it is very easy to understand why she struggled so hard to do so. And may have also explained, in part, why she didn't see the real Ethan until it was almost to late. While this wasn't just the Lucie and Ethan show, they were the main protagonists and subsequently got the largest portion of time devoted to there issues. Of course having Lucie tell the story also pretty much ensured that we'd follow were her thoughts & heart led.
I found the arc of the story to match the characters' development family neatly, making for a mostly smooth and seamless series of transitions as the story progressed. Though slower in the beginning that was virtually required in order to set up the backstory, and it was never to slow that I lost interest. Once the story was well anchored things pretty much exploded from there, with the last quarter or more being full of intense, dynamic events, and hair-raising action. Yet through it all the message embedded in the story was never lost, nor did it ever supersede the actual tale being shared with us. And the messages are solid, important, and useful; all without feeling as if I'd just been force fed, or preached at rather than having just enjoyed an unusual, yet engaging and entertaining, story. Certainly not what I was expecting, but it did not disappoint in any way, shape, or form!
2.5 Stars - just didn’t connect to characters or plot
This poor book sat on my virtual TBR shelf for ages. It sounded interesting, so I requested and was approved for it on NetGalley... but then I never quite felt in the mood for an urban fantasy. Unfortunately, when I finally made myself read it, I still wasn't quite in the mood for an urban fantasy.
To start off with, this book is based on A Tale of Two Cities. I've never read that one, but I honestly don't really like classics. I know. Blasphemous. But it's true. Sorry, not sorry.
The atmosphere is really dark. Which makes sense, but it was darker than I was in the mood for. There's another strike.
The characters just never pulled me in. I really didn't care about any of them. The only character that actually interested me at all was the doppleganger, but we honestly didnt get to know enough about him to really even care about what happens to him.
The plot moved at a snails pace. There were at least two instances where I thought about quitting, only for things to pick up again shortly after. I did make it til the end, and the ending was interesting, but like I said before, I wasn't invested in the characters or the plot enough to actually care about the big "twist" that occured.
In all, this was a rather lackluster read for me. Fans of both Dickens and urban fantasy may enjoy this one, but unfortunately it just didn't do it for me.
Gives Dickens a Run for His Money
This is an outstanding re-imagining of Dickens "Tale of Two Cities." Although the ending is never in doubt, the story provides many wonderful characters in depth., and a compelling narrative. The writing is clear and straight-forward, giving a good base for description of the new worlds of light and dark. The good and evil inherent in the human animal show through in a dystopian future as readily as they did in Dickens' time. The book is entertaining and engrossing, well worth a read.