Read an Excerpt From Hafsah Faizal’s A Tempest of Tea

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We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from Hafsah Faizal’s A Tempest of Tea, the start of a brand new YA duology teeming with vampires, romance, and revenge—out now from Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers.

On the streets of White Roaring, Arthie Casimir is a criminal mastermind and collector of secrets. Her prestigious tearoom transforms into an illegal bloodhouse by night, catering to the vampires feared by society. But when her establishment is threatened, Arthie is forced to strike an unlikely deal with an alluring adversary to save it—she can’t do the job alone.

Calling on some of the city’s most skilled outcasts, Arthie hatches a plan to infiltrate the sinister, glittering vampire society known as the Athereum. But not everyone in her ragtag crew is on her side, and as the truth behind the heist unfolds, Arthie finds herself in the midst of a conspiracy that will threaten the world as she knows it. Dark, action-packed, and swoonworthy, this is Hafsah Faizal better than ever.


JIN

Jin loved the sea. The hush hush of the waves, the lazy sway of the moored boats. He loved its lie, the calm that masked strength like a beast unprovoked.

It reminded him of Arthie, who was already waiting as he passed the dry dock where the skeletons of vessels stuck out every which way, all broken bones and sorry masts. The windows of the port agen­ cies against the cliff face were dark, bur closer inland, the proprietor’s usual late-night haunt, Eden Teahouse, was still lit like a lighthouse at sea.

Jin stuck his hands in his pockets, ignoring the way his limbs seized at the sight of a fire flickering in a bin by the steps. Yellow. Orange. Red. RED. The glint of a pocket watch pulled him free, followed by Arthie’s comforting scent of coconut and a dark blend of tea that reminded him of a midsummer’s night.

Arthie glanced at the flames and then at him before deciding against whatever she’d wanted to say, brushing hair out of her eyes. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?”

They crossed the dock where the stone was shot through with dark mold. Arthie swept her hand down her side in reassurance. She treated Calibore like a lucky charm, though she’d never admit to it being one. Jin could understand that; she’d only ever had herself to rely on.

“Mister Proprietor,” Arthie called, climbing the trio of weepy steps to the open porch where their landlord was seated at one of the tables exposed to the salty air. The teahouse was three stories made of soggy wood instead of brick and coated in sea rot instead of lacquer. Eden—both the place and the drinks it served—was a disgrace to tea.

“Casimir!” The proprietor’s voice cracked in surprise. He was a polished older gentleman with a tiny mustache and specs as round as his bowler hat. He also happened to be one of the few people Arthie didn’t mind seeing every month to hand off a wad of duvin.

“Long night?” she asked, because she didn’t know small talk.

“Quite,” the proprietor replied, flinching when Arthie dragged one of the chairs along the ground to sit opposite him. Jin leaned against the post near her and rapped on the grimy glass window. He would have preferred to have this meeting indoors, but he suspected Eden wouldn’t be much better inside.

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A Tempest of Tea

A Tempest of Tea

Hafsah Faizal

The door jangled open and a slender man glided out. “Welcome to Eden. Where our tea sends you to heaven—” he stopped when he saw Jin and Arthie, who cocked a brow at each other, and turned his attention to the proprietor. “Can I get you anything else, sir?”

Jin wasn’t sure if he should be insulted that they weren’t asked or honored to be spared.

“Oh, we won’t be drinking, but thank you for asking,” Arthie said anyway. She refused to drink tea that wasn’t loose-leaf Ceylani. “My friend here will indeed have another cup. Jasmine, if you will?”

The man looked to the proprietor, who had the good sense to nod.

“Steeped extra well,” Arthie added. Jin held back a snort. Jasmine was fickle, it had to be steeped for an exact number of seconds before it became too bitter to stomach. The man hesitated, but Jin silenced him with a look.

Lips pinched, the server disappeared inside, and the proprietor glanced from one Casimir to the other. Was he thinking about all the years they’d seen together? How they’d changed his life as much as he’d changed theirs?

Before their building was Spindrift, it was a museum known as the Curio, glittering from its prime location at the top of Stoker Lane, boast­ ing artifacts from the colonies that the residents ofWhite Roaring turned a pretty penny to see. That is, until Arthie decided those artifacts had to disappear and, worse, be mysteriously replaced with private collections stolen from thirteen homes in the capital’s richest neighborhoods.

Of course, they’d have to do the stealing.

“Why?” Jin had wanted to know. It was ambitious: two weeks’ worth of work in a night, and if they were sloppy, they’d rot in prison for the rest of their lives.

“Did they ask that when they came to take what was mine?” she replied. Those artifacts had been brought to Ettenia on East Jeevant Company ships.

Jin had called it theft.

“Reclamation,” Arthie had said, her Ceylani tongue stumbling across the word. By then, he had taught her letters using old news­ papers and her iron will.

The atrocity was on the cover of every paper the next day, destroy­ ing the Curio’s reputation overnight. With headlines ranging from How could they do such a thing? to Did the Curio believe no one would notice?

It was ironic the same questions were never asked when Ettenia did that elsewhere.

Still, no one believed the Curio would have destroyed their own artifacts, let alone stolen from someplace else. Only a curse could have caused such a thing to happen. And so, the building sat vacant for months because potential buyers feared falling under the same curse.

Jin still remembered stepping up to the proprietor’s house one night beside Arthie. She was fourteen, Jin two years older.

“It’s cursed,” she’d reminded the proprietor. Cursed by the Casimirs, neither she nor Jin said aloud. ”And you know as well as I do that you’ll have no takers.”

The proprietor, Arthie had learned, was running short on money, enough that he looked at them and then lingered on her pistol before he finally asked, “What do you suggest I do?”

“Give us six weeks,” she said.

“We’ll turn the place around and give you a cut of our profits,” Jin continued. He pretended to think. “Say, ten percent?”

“Fifteen,” the proprietor shot back immediately, exactly as Arthie had said he would.

She grinned and countered. “Thirteen. Only right for a cursed place.”

It was the pistol, Arthie would later tell Jin after hammering out the finer details, and not the proprietor’s desperation that made him accept her offer. There was a little bit of fairy tale in it after all. She might not be White Roaring’s savior, but she had its respect, however begrudging.

Eden Teahouse’s bells jangled as the man returned with a tray. The proprietor took his first sip and immediately spat it back out while Jin watched his misfortune with pity.

Arthie was all teeth. “Not to your liking, Mister Proprietor?”

Jin could have sworn she grew in height by a few inches whenever she was scornful. To heaven indeed.

“Thank—” the proprietor cleared his throat, face twisting as he pushed his cup across the table. Jin bit his tongue. The sea beat at the rocks, laughing. “Thank you.”

Jin leaned over and snapped a biscuit in two. “It’s on us.”

“Now,”—Arthie stared at the proprietor until the man looked away—”we’re not ones for gossip, but we’ve been hearing whispers.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems Spindrift is behind on our dues,” Jin said.

The proprietor said nothing, but he wrung his hands and couldn’t meet either of their eyes. That was enough proof of his guilt.

“Five years now. Not a single missed payment,” Jin continued, quiet and slow.

“Each one bigger than the last,” Arthie added.

The proprietor scratched at his head with a laugh that rattled like dice in a drunk man’s cup.

Jin gripped his umbrella. “What’s with the laugh?”

He mopped at his brow, muttering incoherently. Their proprietor had indeed been compromised.

“Next time, I’m placing a bet,” Arthie told Jin.

“I was only trying to be optimistic,” he replied. He’d expected more from the man. If Jin was being honest, he was even hurt by the betrayal.

In one sharp move, Arthie snatched the specs off the proprietor’s face and slammed them on the table. The lenses shattered but remained in place. One loose stone made for an imperfect foundation, and the proprietor was faulty mortar in her empire. He sputtered in surprise.

“Put them on,” said Arthie.

The proprietor didn’t move.

“Put them on,” Arthie repeated, voice as quiet as the night. “Or Jin will help you.”

Jin scanned the dry dock and the surrounding offices. Behind the glass of Eden Teahouse, the thin man was smart enough not to obtrude. The proprietor reached for the specs with trembling hands, hesitating before putting them back on his face.

“Do you see how the world looks when you wrong me?” she asked. This was why Arthie didn’t need dead bodies littering the streets of White Roaring. She had her ways. They kept her clean and the whis­ pers rolling.

He clutched at the specs and nodded.

“Let’s try this again,” Arthie said. “Why is the Horned Guard speaking of eviction when we’ve abided by our agreement for half a decade?”

“I might have even thought we were friends,” Jin said with a sad laugh.

The proprietor… stopped. He stopped trembling, he stopped wringing his hands. Jin thought he might have stopped breathing too.

“They threatened my family,” he finally said. The admission was a whisper on the breeze. “I know what the pair of you are capable of, but I also know your limits. You might threaten me, you might threaten to run my coffers dry or never let my daughters marry, but you will not kill them.”

Arthie went still.

“Our arrangement is no longer because in two weeks the building will no longer be mine. I—I am deeply sorry.”

She flinched at the kindness in his tone, the pity. Jin didn’t know how to react. If the building no longer belonged to the proprietor, who did it belong to, and what did that mean for them and Spindrift?

“Who are ‘they?’” Arthie asked.

The proprietor pulled a letter from his coat and set it on the table. The wind ripped at its edges, but he held it in place. Jin pushed away from the post and looked over Arthie’s shoulder, his stomach sinking at the sight of that insignia with horns that curled like those of the devil.

The Ram was kicking them out. In two weeks.

Arthie looked down at the proprietor. “Leave White Roaring.”

The man’s head snapped up. His eyes were fractionated and comical behind the shattered lenses. “But—but my properties.”

Excerpted from A Tempest of Tea, copyright © 2024 by Hafsah Faizal.

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