We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal (472 pages)
Heroes Are Not Often Who We Think They Are in We Hunt The Flame
Zafira, better known as the Hunter, has taken it upon herself to feed the people of her community by hunting in the cursed forest, the Arz. Exposing her true identity as a woman would mean everything she has ever worked for will be rejected; so she remains hidden behind her infamous cloak.Nasir, better known as the Prince of Death, assassinates anyone who dares defy his father, the sultan. Despite not agreeing to his father’s ways, displaying compassion or mercy will mean being on the receiving end of the sultan’s wrath. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the Kingdom of Arawiya, but neither can reveal their true selves.
Restoring magic that once made Arawiya prosperous will bring life back to the land and its people. The Arz is taking over more of the land, and soon nothing will remain except the cursed forest. Zafira accepts a life-threatening mission to retrieve an artifact and bring back the magic. Nasir is ordered to follow and to ensure that the Hunter does not return alive. Their harrowing journey means facing demons for which they were not prepared. The future of Arawiya is in their hands.
Magic, Adventure, and a Slow Burn Romance
While magic and adventure are the focal points of this story, the vibrant details of the “caliphates” and their people are what I appreciated the most. Author Hafsah Faizal integrates various elements of the culture of Arawiyans into the story to give the reader a holistic appreciation of the kingdom. These details set the stage of this world: from language, to local traditions, to weddings, and to food and garments.
The plot of We Hunt The Flame follows a similar story arc to many young adult (YA) novels with common tropes such as slow burn romance and enemies to lovers. Where Faizal excels with her debut is the influence of ancient Arabia, and integrating that into every detail of her world-building. The myths that are sprinkled throughout the story add to the mystery and intrigue, which keeps curious minds reading. The story doesn’t end here, however, as Faizal finishes off this saga in part two of the series We Free The Stars.
The Bottom Line: 3/5 Brookie Stars.
Starting a book with high expectations can go one of two ways, and with this novel, I think I may have set the bar a little too high. I enjoyed reading Arabic words throughout the novel and have often found that using native languages in fiction adds to the authenticity of the story. Where it fell short for me was the overuse of flowery expressions and the slower-paced parts of the beginning and middle of the book. For fans of young adult fantasy, you will likely enjoy this book; part one of the Sands of Arawiya duology. If you’ve read and enjoyed books like The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman, I definitely recommend this one.
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Maiya Alismaili is a 34 year old bookacholic who currently resides in Ottawa. With a background in Human Resources and Psychology, you will often find her people watching. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she will likely be exploring the town for new bookstores, rewatching Gilmore Girls, or cleaning to 80s music.
Favorite Book: A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry
Favorite Brunch Spot: Cafe Cristal