Sarah Rees Brennan proves yet again that she is the meanest person ever.
I just wrapped up with Sarah Rees Brennan’s latest masterwork of meanness, Tell the Wind and Fire, and I have a lot of thoughts that will go into a future review, but first, a teaser. There are no spoilers here, unless you consider the warning that Sarah Rees Brennan didn’t let up with her notorious history of torturing her readers a spoiler, in which case, er, sorry.
My decision to leave Tell the Wind and Fire out of my April Must-Reads was deliberate, because this isn’t a must-read: It’s a nonnegotiable read. Brennan is one of my favourite authors and I am a major league fan of both the Lynburn Legacy and the Demon’s Lexicon. If you haven’t read either, I highly recommend them, for the same reasons that I loved Tell the Wind and Fire.
Firstly: Brennan is very good at worldbuilding. She creates wondrous worlds within worlds and is really adroit at playing with the idea of an environment where magic weaves through society in a way that is logical, consistent, and believable, which is actually really hard to do, as I know from painful experience. In the Demon’s Lexicon and the Lynburn Legacy, that magic runs below the surface, a constant, silent, everpresent influence that ordinary humans might not necessarily be aware of or willing to admit to knowing about, but one that’s always there. In Tell the Wind and Fire, she came right out with a magic-saturated world in which everyone knows of Light and Dark magic — and magic has become a divisive cultural phenomenon.
Secondly: Her characters are vivid, lively, and totally engaging. I adore her saucy and insouciant boys, her whip-smart girls, and their evolution over the course of her books. It’s a little easier to do character development and explore arcs in the course of a trilogy. It’s a lot harder to do in a single book, which she managed here with considerable skill.
Thirdly: I just plain like her writing. It’s crisp, descriptive, and fun. She has a way of sneaking in these really sharp, beautiful things that slap you in the face when you’re least expecting it, like this line: ‘The dead drift away from us, like reflections in moving water, hardly seen before they are lost.’ Perhaps its our generational similarities, or other things, but I feel deeply connected to a lot of her work, and things like this are why.
Fourthly: She is seriously the meanest of mean YA authors. A lot of people do cruel and unspeakable things to their characters, and it’s part of their journeys, and sometimes they make me very sad. Sarah Rees Brennan, on the other hand, does terrible things to her characters and readers. I always come away shaking an impotent fist of fury because a book is so good, and yet I’m so mad about what happened, even though it was totally appropriate. That was definitely the case here.
So pick up a copy and read it if you haven’t already gotten on it, but don’t blame me for what happens: For that, you’ll have to go yell at Brennan.