ARC Review: All the Wind in the World

All the Wind in the World

Title: All the Wind in the World

Author: Samantha Mabry

Series: N/A

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Release Date: October 10th 2017


Three Stars

Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.

When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.

– Blurb courtesy of

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

‘Just know the whole thing will be over the second you say it’s over,’ James told me no more than a week ago.
‘The desert,’ Leo said before that, ‘it seems so simple and boring, but really it’s full of secrets.’
I turn away from the campfire and march back to my bunkhouse by myself.
Hard hearts.

Life for Sarah Jac and James is the same day in and day out. They earn a living cutting maguey on the Truth or Consequences ranch, saving every cent in the hopes that one day they’ll have enough to move back out East and run their own ranch. However when a dust storm stirs, and in trying to stop a scared and stampeding horse from trampling a man and his young son, Sarah Jac accidentally kills one of the foreman and the pair are forced to flee for their lives.

Right away I was hooked on the picture Samantha Mabry was painting in her story. Like all magical realism books I’ve read so far All the Wind in the World didn’t have a lot of background, and the story started slow as it introduced the characters and their world, but I never once felt lost or like I had missed parts of the story.

“In our world, you hide your bruises; you don’t let people know you have weak spots. It’s like asking for trouble. Everyone knows two people in love will do anything – stupid things – to save each other. And everyone, no matter how alright they initially seem, will take advantage of that.”

Sarah Jac and James end up at The Real Marvelous hoping their actions at Truth or Consequences haven’t followed them, but there are rumours that the land they now work is cursed. As their days continue, as Sarah Jac and James are pulled apart by their secrets, it seems that even though their past hasn’t followed them, there is more danger inside The Real Marvelous than they both realise.

This was a beautiful story, lyrical and magical like all magical realism books I’ve read so far. The way the story unfolded left me to make my own assumptions about what happens at The Real Marvelous, about the curse and the prophet and the witch. I feel like magical realism is a hard genre to get right – an author needs to be careful that they’re developing the story enough so their readers can understand what’s happening, but at the same time that they aren’t giving out too much information – but Samantha Mabry has undoubtedly told a beautiful magical realism story with this book.

…The Characters

Unfortunately it was the characters that knocked two stars off this review for me.

“Hard hearts,” I whisper as a reminder to both of us not to show weakness in front of others.
“Hard hearts,” he echoes.

Sarah Jac is our main character, and the one whose eyes we see the story through, and I couldn’t stand her character. She’s had a hard life, she lost her entire family and after events that happened when she and James started working as ranch hands she’s been forced to harden her heart, but some of her actions in this book were so hateful I had such a hard time understanding her. Something she did near the end of this book genuinely made me hate her character, and I nearly DNF-ed the book.

It was the same thing that happened with Mabry’s debut novel, A Fierce and Subtle Poison. It was a beautiful story with incredible world building, but I couldn’t connect with the main character. Granted it wasn’t as bad with Lucas as it was with Sarah Jac, but when a story is told in first person POV and you can’t connect to the main character it’s hard to feel invested in their journey or their story.

“James glances my way. His eyes narrow as if to remind me that I’m the one in control, that I can say the word and we can stop this whole charade. Instead, I stare back into the embers of the fire and think of him and me.”

The relationship between Sarah Jac and James was one I enjoyed reading. After what happened at the very first ranch they worked in Sarah Jac and James have been forced to hide their relationship. They pretend they’re cousins to keep themselves safe but when they get to The Real Marvelous things change for the both of them. I feel like this story would have benefited being told through James’s POV as well, All the Wind in the World was supposed to be a love story between Sarah and James but I can’t say anything about the development of James’s character because there’s nothing to say.

…The Setting

“Sometimes I think that there’s so much sameness in the desert. The bunkhouses are the same peanut-shell colour as the dirt. The dirt is the same colour as the mountains. Most days, the sky is striking in its clear blue, but there are few birds that fly through it, and the ones that do are black. Our long days are reiterations of the long days that came before.”

All the Wind in the World is set in a very interesting world. The West United States has dried up and the only work people can get is cutting maguey, the only plant that grows in the dryness, for a few cents a day. It’s a very bleak world, but the way Samantha Mabry writes it makes it seem magical as well, albeit dark and magical. There’s not much explanation behind this new world, why the West coast has been turned into a desert, but there was plenty of development to make it feel real. The lack of background didn’t bother me at all. Like with all the magical realism books I’ve read so far I quickly fell into the world and the story, and never once stopped to wonder ‘why’, just ‘what’s next’.

I thought for a long time over what I should rate this book because while I didn’t like the main character I loved the world, I loved the story, and I loved Samantha Mabry’s writing. If I’d been able to connect with Sarah Jac I would have very easily given this five stars, as is All the Wind in the World is still a wonderful magical realism book but it’s my least favourite of the ones I’ve read so far.

What did you think of All the Wind in the World? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.

18 thoughts on “ARC Review: All the Wind in the World

  1. Ahhh, it is indeed unfortunate that the character’s were impossible to enjoy! It’s nice to know that everything else was fine though. It definitely means that the author could most likely write up a book that could blow your mind away if she could develop better, more relatable characters! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah characters are always one of the main parts of the story necessary for me to enjoy it you know? And the fact that I hated the main character in this book meant I couldn’t rate it any higher than I did.
      Yeah if in Samantha Mabry’s next book I could connect more with her characters I reckon it could easily be a five star read for me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok, you’ve renewed my hope on A Fierce and Subtle Poison so I will def be giving that one a go. It’s so short too so I should breeze right through it, I’m also missing PR something bad right now so perfect timing. I have SUPER high expectation for Wild Beauty especially with its Latinx cast of women, super stoked! hope it lives up to our expectations *fingers crossed* 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s good to hear, it is a good book I just had a few issues connecting with the main character but not everyone felt that way so it could have just been me.
      My expectations for Wild Beauty are super high as well, mainly because it’s by Anna-Marie McLemore and I’ve loved all her books so far! Not long to go now right? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No not long at all, I actually have a arc for Wild Beauty & my guess is that it’s the Owlcrate book for October 🤞🏼her writing is really beautiful so I expect to be fully absorbed in the world she’s created 🙌🏼

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovley review, Beth – this book has such a stunning cover, I love it. ❤ I'm so sorry to hear you couldn't connect with the characters, and I get your struggle about having to rate a book like that, especially if you enjoyed the story and the author's writing anyways. I never know what to do in these cases either, but characters are so, so important, whenever I can't relate to them, despite loving all of the things around making the book a whole, I can't rate it higher than 3 stars either. It does sound like a lovely book, I think I'll keep it in mind anyway 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie. 🙂 ❤️ Yeah the cover is stunning, it was the same with A Fierce and Subtle Poison which was the authors debut.
      It was just let down by the characters I guess. That’s the thing, most aspects of this book I really loved. It was literally just one character I couldn’t stand, but it was the main character and the story was told through her POV. Characters are definitely important, and it’s books like this that make me realise how much you know? A book that could be five stars will end up being one we can’t rate more than three because of the characters.
      I’d recommend this one for the world building and the plot, and if you do decide to read it I’ll be really interested in hearing what you think about it. 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I completely get your frustration, Beth! Sometimes a book will pull me in completely, have an amazing story, but the main character (whose POV we have no way of evading) is such a repulsive person/someone I can’t connect with at all that I can never truly appreciate my reading experience. I’m sorry the same has happened to you 😦
    On another note, I’ve been seeing this genre becoming more and more popular and I have to say I’m intrigued. I’m very unfamiliar with magical realism but it sounds awesome! Definitely will keep an eye out for it 🙂
    Wonderful review ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it’s rare it happens, in all my time blogging I’ve only come across books like these maybe three times, but when it does it tends to lower my rating for the whole story. Like you said we can’t get away from the main characters POV so it really needs to be well done. That was pretty much my only issue with this book, but Sarah Jac’s actions were so hateful I couldn’t get behind them, or her, at all.
      I’ve been seeing a rise in magical realism books and I love it. It’s fast become a favourite genre of mine. If you ever want recommendations if you’re tempted to start the genre let me know. I’ll have a few for you.
      Thanks Sophie. 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a brilliant genre. 🙂
        My favourite magical realism book is Bone Gap, it was the first one I read and probably still my all-time favourite. Anything by Anna-Marie McLemore would be a good pick, especially When the Moon Was Ours, and anything by Emily Henry as well. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ooooh I’ll add them to my Goodreads list right away! I’d heard of McLemore but never thought her books were magical realism for some weird reason… To be honest, I don’t even remember what they were about, but I remember tons of people swearing by them. So I will totally check her out, and Henry as well 🙂
        Thank you SO MUCH, Beth, you rock ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Great to hear, 🙂 and yeah McLemore is actually my favourite magical realism author. She has a new book being released in a couple of days, Wild Beauty, and it is a highly anticipated release of mine. 😀
        I’m definitely one of the people swearing by them, and I really hope you enjoy them as well Sophie.
        That’s all right! 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh dear, I know you had hopes for this one to be a win. Characters for me are the reason why I LOVE reading & so if I can’t connect, the story is most likely a fail. I had no idea this was by the same author of A Fierce and Subtle Poison…I actually own that book & haven’t read it because I heard some meh reviews more than any positive. Disappointing really since that one takes place in PR & so i had high hopes *bummer*

    P.S. I couldn’t agree with you more when it comes to Magical Realism…which make books in that genre hit or miss most of the time. Wonderful review Beth! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I really did, especially because I’d yet to read a magical realism book I hadn’t enjoyed. With this one it was just the characters that let it down but like you characters are one of the reasons I love reading so it was a big thing for me.
      See my review for A Fierce and Subtle Poison was more positive, the only issue I had was that I struggled connecting to the main character at first, the setting was the best thing about AFASP. So if you can read it for the fact that it’s set in PR you may enjoy it a little.
      Yeah, most magical realism has been a hit for me. I guess that means I was due for a miss. I still have Wild Beauty this year and my hopes for that one are sky high still. Thanks Lilly. 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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