In the future, magic has divided humanity into light and dark. Lucie lives in the light half of the city, surrounded by luxury, receiving a certain celebrity status for her story of one who came out of the dark shining. Yet the light regime left her without a mother and her father in tatters. Helping her rebuild her life is her boyfriend, Ethan, but when his life is threatened, Lucie must start a fight for everything she loves and everything she believes in.

Tell the wind and fire where to stop, but don’t tell me.

Tell the Wind and Fire is loosely based on Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, even borrowing its famous opening line. The dark magicians are the equivalent of the French peasantry, suffering under the oppression of the light rulers. The light are the aristocracy, about to be toppled by a revolution. Like in the source material, there are innocent people on both sides who get caught up in the mess.

The main character shares her name with that of Dickens’ story, Lucie Manette, her father having faced a similar fate in both books. She is known as the Golden Thread in the Dark, a name given to her after her performance of grief and innocence freed her father from the savage punishment inflicted on him by the light’s excuse for a justice system.

People will come up with a hundred thousand reasons why other people do not count as human, but that does not mean anyone has to listen.

Ethan, Lucie’s boyfriend and heir to a powerful light family, is about to be executed for treason when Carwyn steps into their lives. He looks just like Ethan and his presence reveals the Stryker family’s biggest, and darkest, secret.

I found the initial world building a little clumsy. A lot of the dark magicians did this but the light magicians did that and the dark city does this, the light city does another thing. Lots of repetition of light and dark and it was a bit info-dumpy at the same time. I can see people just giving up on it before the going gets good. However once this was over I really got into the story and the characters.

The world Lucie inhabits is a dark and gruesome one. It doesn’t brush over the cruelty on either side of the revolution, what happens when you stop seeing people and just see what they represent. Lucie is privileged but there are no easy answers, even with her celebrity to help her.

A rebellion implied something tried, whereas a revolution implied something that had succeeded in turning the whole world upside down.

I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t really a romance, Lucie and Ethan are already an established couple at the start, and whilst they have their stumbles and trials (what relationship doesn’t?) I never felt like it was ever suggesting that Lucie might get it on with his doppelganger. I liked the development of Carwyn as something more than just a creature of darkness and the ending was genuinely moving.

I do wonder if it suffered a little from having to fit into a predetermined maximum length for young adult and it could have done with a bit more time to shine. Sarah’s writing, once it gets past the awkward introduction, is engaging and with a bit of perseverance, it was an entertaining fantasy story. Just don’t go into it expecting Dickens or a traditional romance.

Tell the Wind and Fire is published by Clarion Books and will be available in hardback from 5th April 2016. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.