May 3, 2019

Book Review: We Hunt the Flame

Zafira has made a name for herself as the Hunter who is able to venture into the Arz and return with food to feed her village. Her feats have drawn the attention of powerful individuals, and they invite her to go on a quest to retrieve the Juwarat, a magical artifact that can restore magic to the land of Arawiya. Zafira rises to the challenge, but unbeknownst to her, others are also embarking on similar journeys… including Crown Prince Nasir, a well-trained assassin nicknamed the Prince of Death. As the days go on and they draw ever closer to their quarry, Zafira and the others start to realize that there may be more to this request than meets the eye and that the powerful object they are seeking might be more than what it seems.

I really enjoyed We Hunt the Flame, friends. I had high hopes going into it, which always makes me nervous, especially in this era where I feel like YA fantasy can be so hit or miss for me. But I’m happy to report back that I thought this debut novel was so good, and I’m eager to get my hands on the next one!

There were different elements played a part in my enjoyment of this tale. For one thing, there’s the setting, which includes plenty of details from Arabian culture (including actual words, which I felt was fairly easy to guess at the actual translation of just based on context clues) and magic done in an interesting way (though I feel like we’re only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding it). There’s also the actual plot which takes on familiar fantasy tropes (a group of individuals thrown together to complete a quest, two enemies forced to make an alliance for survival purposes, a country facing political instability and takeover by evil, etc), but does it in a way that was compulsively readable from start to finish.

But really, my enjoyment of this story all boils down to the characters. As many of you might now, I’m a very character-driven reader, and my relationship with the characters in any story genuinely affects my thoughts on a book. Happily, I enjoyed many of the characters in this story, but particularly three of the main zumra (or gang): Altair, the general with sharp wit, a propensity for flirtation and secrets lurking beneath a seemingly pleasant surface; Nasir, who is grappling with the darkness of the path he has been sent on that he feels is impossible to diverge from; and Zafira, who struggles with overcoming her own circumstances in a country where woman are treated as less than (hence her pretending to be a man as the Hunter) and figuring out what she wants to do with her new situation. I’m well and truly invested in what happens to these three (and a few other characters as well)!

We Hunt the Flame was truly a pleasant surprise, as this debut fantasy wound up being a novel that reeled me right into its clutches and didn’t let me go until I turned the last page. (In fact, I’m even loathe to say I’ve let it go at all, considering I’m basically chomping at the bit to discover what happens next.) I’m thrilled to be able to say I really liked this one a lot and can’t wait for more!

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal | Series: Sands of Arawiya #1
Publisher: Farrrar, Straus & Giroux | Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thank you!)


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