Review of A Tempest of Tea, by Hafsah Faizal, read by Maya Saroya

A Tempest of Tea

by Hafsah Faizal
read by Maya Saroya

Macmillan Young Listeners, 2024. 11 hours, 2 minutes.
Review written May 8, 2024, from a library eaudiobook.

I put this audiobook on hold because it’s wildly popular with our own public library customers. A Tempest of Tea is a heist novel with vampires.

By day, Arthie Casimir runs an upscale teahouse in the bad part of the capital city. By night, secret panels come open, and it transforms into a bloodhouse serving vampires, so they can sate their thirst with folks willing to be paid for the privilege, or with special coconut-mixed blood drinks. The bloodhouse is illegal, but Arthie has paid informants to warn her before raids so she can put the bloodhouse gear back into hiding.

Arthie’s an immigrant to the kingdom. When she was a child, colonizers killed her parents and took their land. Later on, she teamed up with another young orphan named Jin, and she figured out how to pull a magical pistol from stone and win the respect of the city. (Between her name and pulling the weapon from stone, I expected Arthurian overtones, but didn’t really find any more than that.) Together, she and Jin built up their teahouse and peddle tea and secrets.

But as the story opens, Arthie learns that the future of her teahouse is threatened. A mysterious figure comes and tells her she can save it if she will help him steal some compromising material about the king of the empire — housed in a citadel kept by elite vampires that is opened once a year for an exclusive charity auction.

So that’s the heist novel part. Arthie and Jin assemble a team and lay plans to pull off the heist. Of course things don’t go completely according to plan….

I wasn’t the best audience for this book, because although I do enjoy heist novels, I’m not a big vampire novel fan, and am also not a big fan of blackmailers and others consistently slipping under the law. They gave Arthie strong reasons for her contempt of people in authority, and I was won over to be on her side. My other problem, though, was that the plot was fairly complex and there was a pretty big cast of characters with the perspective switching frequently. I listen to audiobooks while I’m doing other things (makes housework so much more pleasant!), but I think maybe I missed some crucial details and wasn’t following along all that well in the middle. All the same, I wasn’t going to stop listening. And there is an annoying cliffhanger ending, and I think I will be compelled to find out how things turn out. (It’s said to be a duology, so yay, this is the only suspense required.) One of the most delightful things about this audiobook was at the end, they give us a conversation between the author and her husband about the book, which is truly delightful.

If you do like vampire novels or heist novels, and don’t mind a little not-quite-legal dealings from characters who have good reason to be upset with the authorities – then give this book a try!

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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