Book Review

We Hunt The Flame

We Hunt the Flame

  • Author: Hafsah Faizal
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: May 14, 2019
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
  • Series: Sands of Arawiya #1

TRIGGER WARNING: misogyny, depression, torture, murder, reference to child abuse in the past, reference to murder of a parent, blood, gore, hallucinations

Rating: 5 out of 5.

People lived because she killed.

People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira is exposed as a girl, all of her achievements will be rejected; if Nasir displays his compassion, his father will punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya — but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. While Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds — and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

I’m the kind of reader who rushes through books to find out what is going to happen next, hurtling towards the next chapter and ultimately the end. However, this was a book that needed to be read slowly and savored. I ended up reading and having to take frequent breaks so that I didn’t read too quickly. Why? Because it was just written so beautifully. The writing was gorgeous, and the story was the kind that needed to be enjoyed rather than rushed.

“Lattice screens and lush cushions sprawled across the creamy stone in soft sighs of color.”

I loved the Arabian-inspired world building. In a genre that is oversaturated with European inspired worlds, it was refreshing to step into a world full of sand and minarets, Arabic words, bright colors and exotic spices. 

“The tan stone had been polished to a gleam, competing with the minarets rising to the skies. The golden domes were cut with rays of obsidian from the volcanic mountains of western Alderamin, their spires ending in curves shaped like water drops.”

Zafira lives in a caliphate where women aren’t treated equally to men. The loss of magic has led to the development of a dark forest called the Arz, and food shortages. Faced with starvation, her father taught Zafira to hunt, and she dresses as a boy to feed her village:

“As she and Sukkar crested the last hill that stood between her village and the Arz, she wished, more than anything, that she could be herself. That women didn’t have to be the incapable creatures the men of Demenhur claimed them to be.”

Circumstances have caused her to be closed off to her emotions. She does what she needs to do, to ensure the survival of herself, her family and friends, and the people of her village. There’s people close to her, but she is completely shut down emotionally:

“If there was one thing Zafira didn’t do, it was hope. Hope was as much a disease as love was.”

On the other hand, we’ve got Nasir. The Prince of Darkness, the assassin. He’s actually kind of a secret cinnamon roll. Beneath his tough exterior, he’s got a heart and a deep sense of compassion, which have brought him nothing but trouble. 

My plans to read slowly and savor every chapter, every page, every word, all went out the window close to the end. The action picks up and I couldn’t put the book down. I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next and there was no shortage of plot twists that I never saw coming. It was so exciting to read this book and completely lose myself in this story.

There’s two tropes in the story that were done really, really well — the enemies to lovers trope, and the found family trope. I love them both when they’re done right, and Hafsah Faizal was a master at them both! The romance was slow-burn and it was so sexy when it finally occurred. 

“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

I need the next book immediately! Unfortunately, it doesn’t come out until January 2021, and isn’t on NetGalley yet. I’ve practically offered a kidney for it on Edelweiss, but they never approve me, so looks like I’m going to be waiting a while to find out what happens next.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 22

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