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 king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.
Both 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. When 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 king 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.
It’s taken me a few days to collect my thoughts enough to even attempt writing this review and I’m not even really sure why? Either way, I have a lot to say about this book, some of it good, and some of it…not so good.
We Hunt the Flame was one of the books I was most excited for this year. It was published earlier this year but I just wasn’t in the right headspace to read it and I kept putting off purchasing it as I had so many other titles vying for my attention. However, recently I entered a giveaway competition over on Twitter and was lucky enough to win a beautiful hardback copy. AND it’s signed? It’s like all my Eids came at once!
Lets start with the good stuff:
I loved the rich, Arabian inspired world that Faizal has created. From the different cities of Arawiya to the caliphs that rule them and the foreboding Arz that encroaches upon the land, it was all so well realised. I really enjoyed seeing how the different cities and their people were unique and had a variety of cultures, foods and clothing. All these little details contributed in making the world of Arawiya come together for me. I also liked the history that Faizal provides us with, the concept of the six magic wielding sisters and their subsequent disappearance, the mystery was so intriguing.
As well as the world-building, I also enjoyed Faizals writing style which was so lush and evocative. I tend to love prose which is heavily descriptive and just downright beautiful and We Hunt the Flame has this and more. If this isn’t quite your thing then perhaps you should steer away from this novel but if you love this kind of style then you’ll love Faizals work. There are so many amazing quotes from this book, here are some of my personal favourites:
“Maybe the tiny lions were merely ornaments, a display of pride for the victory over a man who defied men, only to be slain by women.”
“A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.”
“…in this moment, we are two souls, marooned beneath the moon, hungry and alone, adrift in the current of what we do not understand. We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves… You remind me that hope is not lost.”
The quest itself was interesting and I liked the ups and downs, while I definitely saw some of them coming, it was still enjoyable to read. I liked the mythology of Arawiya and reading as the group travelled through the crumbling ruins on the cursed island of Sharr, battling different dangers and getting closer to the Jawarat.
I also really loved the friendships in this novel, especially the one between Zafira and Yasmine. They were two equally strong and fierce female characters who have such a love for each other, an unbroken bond and a sisterhood that keeps them both going through some of the most difficult times in their lives. I love when books feature female friendships and Faizal got the nuances of this bond so right.
I’m a sucker for the found family trope so I loved the little dysfunctional family which was formed during the course of the novel, consisting of Zafira, Nasir, Altair, Kifah and Benyamin. I enjoyed reading the dynamics between them all and seeing how they all shift as they bond and realise they need each other. From the fraught moments to the lighter ones when they’re simply just lost souls around a campfire, with Altairs innuendos and quips, there were some great moments amidst the gravity of the quest.
What could have been improved:
The pacing in the first 1/2 of the novel was really slow and it took time for the plot to progress and for the action to really kick in. I didn’t mind that Faizal was giving us some depth and some introspection but I would have preferred if there had been some more action faster. I feel like some readers might feel like nothing is really happening and may give up before the plot really gets going, which would be a real shame.
The burgeoning romance between Zafira and Nasir felt a bit predictable and fell a bit flat for me. Usually I’m weak for the enemies to lovers trope but I don’t know why, in this case I just felt indifferent. Maybe it was because Nasir being all angsty just dragged on for so long and it felt more like a plot point than a natural progression for these characters. One moment they hated each others guts and the next they were falling for each other, it was so fast and there wasn’t enough time for some slow burn development.
Overall, there were some really great elements including the writing which was both poetic and lovely. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel! I would encourage any fans of Y/A Fantasy, especially those looking for a diverse and own voices novel to dive in to and relish.
Until next time,