LOVE, LOVE, LOVE
Title: We Hunt the Flame
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Difficulty: Mild Pages: 469
Series: Yes. This is the first book of the Sands of Arawiya duology.
Always spoiler free. Trigger warning - loss and some violence
I bought We Hunt the Flame just after Christmas with a gift card from my flatmate. It was one of several books I had been keen for a while to read, but just needed a bit of a push to buy, because books can be quite expensive!
Zafira is the Hunter. She will do anything to help her family and protect those she cares about. Nasir is an assassin, dubbed the Prince of Death. He is chained to the whims of his father, the Sultan. Each are tasked with a mission that will change the course of their lives and bring them together in ways that neither were expecting.
I actually found the blurb of this book quite misleading. This story is more than Zafira and Nasir, although they are both technically the main characters. There are quite a few characters through the story, each with their own importance in that moment. It also doesn’t give you any context to the beauty of the book, rather it kinda downplays it. If you aren’t sure about the book based on the blurb, I’d definitely say give it a chance!
Ah, the land of Arawiya is definitely its own character. Faizal’s prose is beautifully descriptive, especially in the beginning with the descriptions about the marriage of Yasmine, which essentially sets the scene for Zafira’s home. It’s a gorgeous world, with beauty and danger, magic and passion, love and evil. (On a side point though, I found the map at the front of the book wildly confusing based on the descriptions in the book. The placement of The Empty Forest especially…but that might just be me!)
The plot shifts between Zafira and Nasir, but I think I was drawn more to Zafira’s parts. There’s a literal journey as well as a figurative journey of emotions and growth for both characters, although I think Nasir has the most growth. Anyway, the takeaway of this paragraph is that the book gives you layers.
I know the tiniest bit of Arabic, and it was really lovely having the language peppered through the book. You can work out the general meaning from the context (which is something, as a dyslexic, I’ve done my whole life), but Faizal also adds a handy glossary and pronunciation list at the end of the book.
There were some bits I didn’t like. The purpose of the character of Deen. I mean I understand it, but it felt to me like a waste of character. I wonder if the plot line would really change that much if he was removed from the plot completely? Either way, it annoyed me enough to make note of it while I was reading. The ending, or rather what happens to the character of Altair at the end, I found really annoying because I think that what happened was completely out of character for all of the other established characters. I get it’s setting up the next book, but still!
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but I loved it. I loved the characters. I loved the plot. I didn’t necessarily find it ground-breaking, but definitely original in YA fantasy. It was also an easy read – I think I read it in one sitting, but it was a pleasant flowing read which made it very easy to get engrossed immediately. Faizal is a great storyteller and a good writer, two things that don’t always come together. I’m super excited to read the second book.
Well Red Reviews
Would I recommend this book? Definitely!
Favourite quote(s): I don’t actually have one, or I read this long enough ago that I don’t really remember any standout passages. But honestly the language and beauty of the prose is something to behold!