Book review: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Title: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication date: 14 May 2019

Genre: Fantasy| Young adult

Page count: 480 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: 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.

We Hunt the Flame is a visually stunning, excellent debut inspired by ancient Arabia, with a fun and interesting cast of characters to follow. Whilst a little slow to start, the story really picks up midway through for a action packed finish!

We Hunt the Flame tells the story of two main characters. Zafira, a woman who disguises herself as a man in order to hunt food for her people in the mysterious, magical death-trap that is the forest of Arz. Nasir, trained assassin and son of the King, is the Prince of Death sent to kill her.

Zafira is persuasded to embark on a quest to find a lost book which would be able to restore magic to the land of Arawiya. Without magic, the terrifying Arz is slowly taking over the entire land, killing anyone who enters. Nasir is sent by the King to follow Zafira as she hunts the item, and then steal it, taking its power for himself.

Things, of course, do not go to plan, and Zafira and Nasir are brought together by a cast of excellent characters in a zumra – a gang – to try hunt for the item together. The characters are what really shines in this book, they are all so distinct and well-written, you really get a sense of who everyone is. There is Altair, Nasir’s companion and General, who accompanies Nasir on their hunt. He is larger than life, loud and boistorous, loves being the centre of attention – but hides a secret. Benyamin is a safi, an immortal creature from the advanced land of Alderamin, one of the five provinces of Ariwaya. Benyamin is knowledgeable and wise but has been forced to pay terrible prices for magic. Kifah is from Pelusia, the province known for its engineering and technology. She’s strong and fierce and won’t back down without a fight.

Of these characters, Altair is my favourite. He is so lively and really lightens the book in places. He is such a warm character, and is the first character Zafira really warms too. I do also love both Zafira and Nasir, the two MCs. We switch between both their POVs throughout the book, and I enjoyed them both. Nasir is dark, but scared and hurt and broken, he tries to be fearless but as the story continues and his character is more deeply revealed, we see the real Nasir, the one who doesn’t want to kill Zafira and steal the book, who doesn’t want to be an assassin but who doesn’t know how to disobey his father. Zafira on the other hand is strong and determined and wants to be out there, exploring and adventuring. She’s got a vendetta to destroy the Arz, after it destroyed her father, and she won’t let anything stop her, let alone the Prince of Death.

The first half of the book is fairly slow. The description is nuanced and detailed and it takes some time to read and understand the setting and world. I felt the story really picked up once the cast reached the island, but especially when the zumra came together. There were parts I did feel needed a little more explanation, or I struggled to understand what had happened, but there weren’t many of those.

The creeping darkness of the magic was excellent, and I loved how insidious it was by the end, with twist after twist revealing how far the darkness had spread.

I also really enjoyed the romance, it was so well developed, slow burn which I love, and I just think the relationship between the two was EXCELLENT. I loved all their interactions, the way Nasir’s hurt was slowly revealed and how it changed them, so great!

All in all this is a really fantastic debut, with excellent magic, romance, but most importantly, a fantastic, distinct, and fun cast of characters who are really the star in We Hunt the Flame!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

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