a tempest of tea review - owlcrate edition of the book

A Tempest of Tea Review: Enjoyable, But Brevity is a Double-Edged Sword

With its Peaky Blinders-inspired setting mixed with the allure of vampires, I was excited for the release of A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal. I’d never read anything by this author before, but I had heard nothing but good things so I was eager to dive in (especially after getting my hands on the gorgeous Owlcrate edition.)

But did it live up to the hype? Here is my honest A Tempest of Tea review.

A Tempest of Tea is best described as “Peaky Blinders with vampires” heist novel woven into a young adult fantasy setting.

However, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended) due to its shorter length. Here I’ll break down all my thoughts on the themes, plot, characters, and world-building.

*Disclaimer: There are affiliate links below, which means if you make a purchase after clicking on one, I may earn a commission. Full disclosure here.

My Owlcrate edition of A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal

Read if you Like:

  • Shorter reads
  • Heist novels
  • Love triangles
  • YA fantasy

Skip if you Don’t Like:

  • Limited world-building
  • Character-driven plot
  • Cliffhangers

Let’s dive into the details, shall we?

a tempest of tea book cover

Themes And Motifs

One theme that stood out to me was the concept of chosen family. We see this through the bond between two main characters, Arthie and Jin, who, despite not being related by blood, embrace each other as siblings. Their relationship added a heartwarming and refreshing touch to the story.

Another major theme is colonialism. Ettenia, a central power within the story, has been conquering surrounding nations like Ceylan, Arthie’s homeland. This theme creates a tension-filled backdrop for the novel, while also tackling complex issues such as:

  • Secrets: Many characters wrestle with the burden of unsavory pasts or dangerous knowledge.
  • Revenge: As you might expect in a world of colonization, some characters seek to right various wrongs.
  • Trust: Protagonists must navigate a web of tenuous alliances and navigate who’s truly on their side.
  • Courage: The fight for justice or freedom requires characters to face their fears and stand up against all odds.

The novel also delves into themes around power dynamics. In particular, the corruption of power left me contemplating whether power inherently corrupts individuals or if only those already corrupt are drawn to positions of power.

This theme neatly intertwines with subjects like anger, loyalty, and racism, which are all important and thought-provoking issues on their own, but when combined create a rich tapestry of meaningful discussion in the story.


At 338 pages, the world-building isn’t the strongest aspect of this novel. The story offers glimpses of a larger, intriguing world that combines elements of 1880s England with the unique aspects of the teahouse and vampire society, but it wasn’t long enough to go into much depth.

That being said, I didn’t find the lack of elaborate world-building to be a major drawback.

The benefit to keeping the focus on the story is that it makes it more accessible to people new to fantasy or who get overwhelmed by a book with lots of world-building, especially considering is a YA novel.

There also isn’t really any magic system to speak of in this novel, which is fine but something worth noting in case you were hoping for a world with magic.


A Tempest of Tea has a heist-style plot that revolves around the main characters trying to infiltrate an elite vampire society, which is a great premise on its own.

However, I noticed some pacing issues throughout the story that had me feeling a little impatient in some parts. Everything was building up to the heist but there weren’t many action-packed scenes before that.

On the plus side, the novel has a few delightful twists and some romantic tension that helped make up for it.

I will warn you that this book has a cliffhanger ending, which is a pet peeve of mine; while I believe that it’s okay for the first novel in a series to hint at future storylines and unresolved situations, the book should still wrap up in a satisfying way instead of leaving the reader hanging with no resolution.

In this case, the cliffhanger felt more like a gimmick aimed at provoking interest in picking up the second book. Especially since the book is barely more than 300 pages, I found the cliffhanger to be unnecessary and unearned, which is one of my biggest issues with the book.

In fact, it leads me to wonder if this series even needed to be a duology; there are plenty of fantasy standalone books out there that are 500-600 pages – even in the YA classification!

But I digress.

The bottom line is A Tempest of Tea has an interesting premise, but the pacing and cliffhanger ending didn’t lead to the most fulfilling experience as a reader.


The story is centered around a group of misfits with five main characters. The characters in this book had a lot of potential, but I must admit that I felt some of them could have been developed a bit more.

Our main protagonist is Arthie Casimir, an orphan girl who stands out for her well-defined characterization. Alongside her, we have Jin, another character I find quite compelling and well-drawn. These two seem to have the strongest development throughout the novel.

As for the other three primary characters – Matteo, Laith, and Flick – I feel their stories could have been fleshed out a little more.

But again, with the book being under 400 pages, it’s tough to dive deep into all five main characters’ stories. This is most noticeable with Matteo and Laith, who felt a bit glossed over to me. For instance, the other three characters get their own POV chapters, but not these two.

While we’re on the subject of character relationships, let’s talk about the love triangle subplot. There were some good moments, but at times it felt rushed and could have benefited from more lead-up scenes to improve the chemistry between the characters involved. The elements of romantic tension were there, but since there wasn’t much build-up, their interactions felt a bit forced and unnatural at times.

The main villain, known as The Ram, comes across as a formidable, mysterious antagonist. It adds to the overall intrigue of A Tempest of Tea, but again, I wish we had gotten a bit more.

Writing Style

Hafsah Faizal showcases her writing talent through a clear and easy-to-follow writing style, allowing readers to easily follow the story.

Her narrative voice is not only engaging but also sprinkled with a touch of humor.

There’s also some pretty good dialogue in this book, with characters quipping fun, memorable lines. (“It’s tea time, scoundrels.”)

In terms of point of view, A Tempest of Tea is told in the close third person from three different characters’ perspectives. It’s well done in a manner that feels natural and authentic, making the writing style one of the strongest aspects of the book.

I just wish she had also included POVs for Matteo and Laith!

Final Thoughts And Rating

A Tempest of Tea is a good read with some strong points, but I found it reads on the younger side of the YA literature spectrum due to its brevity. Readers who enjoy found-family dynamics and elements akin to Peaky Blinders will likely enjoy the book.

Personally, I could have used an extra 100 pages with a few more action-based scenes and time to connect with the characters. While I commend it for being a swift and enjoyable read for younger readers, I probably won’t read the sequel myself.

Overall, I give it a 3.5-star rating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is A Tempest of Tea YA or Adult?

A Tempest of Tea is definitely a YA book, but I would say it appeals to those on the younger side of that spectrum. (13-15)

Is there romance in A Tempest of Tea?

Yes, there is a romantic subplot – in fact, there is something of a love triangle that develops between three of the main characters.

Is a Tempest of Tea a standalone?

Nope, it’s not a standalone. A Tempest of Tea is planned as a duology, but we’re still waiting for the second book to be released.

Is a Tempest of Tea Spicy?

No. About as spicy as ketchup, A Tempest of Tea stays true to its YA roots, so it doesn’t venture into steamy territory.

What themes are explored in A Tempest of Tea?

The story touches on themes like colonialism and found family. This makes it a deeply engaging read.

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