Series: Sands of Arawiya #1
Publication date : May 14th, 2019
Publisher : Farrar Straus & Girroux| Macmillan
Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy
Page Count: 480
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 the (From Goodreads)
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review*
CW: murder, abusive father, mind control, violence, death of loved ones, torture.
We Hunt the Flame has been one of my most anticipated releases of the year for the LONGEST time so I was over the moon when I got chosen to be part of the street team and then later on got a review copy. Because listen, Ancient Arabia inspired setting? All the Arabic? Angsty characters? Hate to love romance? YES PLEASE. And this book delivered all the angsty characters and lush setting it promised me, it did not disappoint on that front AT ALL. I even wanted more of them, GIMME MORE PLEASE.
The writing is absolutely exquisite, I found myself fully immersed in this world Faizal was weaving around me, especially with the descriptions being so lush and vivid. The prose is also very flowery, so if that’s not your thing you might have a hard time with it but I honestly adored it. The author’s words are magical and make you want to know more about everything, and read more, eve a grocery list. Just saying haha. Although this has a full cast, We Hunt the Flame is written from two perspectives: Zafira, the Huntress and Nasir the Assassin and they’re both such angsty people, holy wow, but not in the frustrating way, more in the way where I’m just like “you two need a BREAK and a cup of tea”. I also loved all the Arabic and the familiarity of it and I LIVED for the food descriptions *drools*.
The world is easily understandable and I could clearly see and navigate it in my mind while reading. The world building was done progressively but a good chunk of it was done towards the beginning which is where one of my first criticisms comes in… The first 30% of the book are very slow. The first 10% was okay because it’s all fresh and exciting but the 20% that followed got boring, it was overly descriptive and narrative when nothing of substance really happened and I believe that if those first 30 or 40% were condensed it would’ve helped with making the pace a little more balanced. Especially since that was COMPLETELY reversed in the second half of the book.
Once the characters got to the island of Sharr, especially once they crossed paths the pace picked up, the plot gripped me and sucked me in and didn’t let me go until I finished the book and started blankly at my wall for the next half hour. It took me four days to read the first half and I read the second in one sitting. THAT’S HOW GOOD IT WAS. There was such a thick mysterious veil, so many good twists and turns, revelations that had me gasping and connections I couldn’t have seen coming if not spelled out for me. The plot was so nicely threaded and intricate, I kept on reading until I realized I had no more to read AND I NEEDED THE SEQUEL YESTERDAY!
The characters are by far the best part of We Hunt the Flame for me, they carried the story for me and kept me reading even in that initial part where the plot hadn’t drawn me in yet. I lived for them and I would honestly die for them *cry*, especially their banter and interactions. Characters’ crafting and relationships are Faizal’s strongest suit for sure. First, we have Zafira, the Hunter(ess): She’s a smart, fierce and brave girl who would do anything for her people, even go on a mission she knows very little about to restore magic and save them from starvation and more importantly, from being swallowed by a forest. Yeah… no big deal. She feels confident and kickass with her cloak on and has a hard time translating that to the person she is without her cloak and we see her throughout the book kind of start merging her two selves and embracing that they’re both integral pieces of who she is.
Next is Nasir, the angstiest tortured soul of an assassin you’ve ever met, his nickname is literally Amir El Mutt (Prince of death). His hobbies include brooding, mumbling, and cussing at Altair. He’s dealing with a lot of self-loathing because of his…murderous tendancies. And I think that was definitely a very interesting dynamic to explore: an assassin who loathes killing but does it anyway. I liked the discussion around what it meant for him that he killed so many, and for his humanity. He cares a lot about a lot of people which he hates about himself (like…Everything else) too because it’s a liability in his line of work, but does that stop his treasonous heart? NOOO. And I loved him all the more for it.
Now umm, here’s the thing. I did not care for the romance between Nasir and Zafira. It wasn’t bad per say but it wasn’t developed. I could see myself rooting for them if there was more substances to their relationship than a lot of snapping at each other or brooding and exchanging worlds begrudgingly and then the next thing I know is them developing feelings for each other and all I could think is: WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? DID I MISS SOMETHING? The attraction is very well done, the feelings though… they need a little more work in my opinion. But luckily, that was a very negligible part of the story. And I’m really hoping we get to see more depth to their relationship in the next book.
The rest of the cast is made of Altair, Kifah and Benyamin. Altair being my favourite because he’s absolutely hilarious, and a cheeky flirt whose second language is innuendos, he’s a lot smarter and observant than he lets on and hides a lot under that seemingly nonchalant facade. The way he got on Nasir’s nerves made my life and it was the kind of relationship dynamic I never knew I needed. Then we have Kifah, who reminds me of Okoye from Black Panther, she’s badass and doesn’t take shit from anyone but is also the only reasonable one in their bunch. Last but not least is Benyamin who is a Safin (faerie equivalent in this world), he seems superficial and careless but holds a lot of wisdom in that he only lets out in small, very needed, doses. Honorable mention to Yasmine, Zafira‘s best friend who we only see at the very beginning and the very end, she’s amazing and snarky and has a foul mouth and a heart of gold.
And that’s about everything I had to say about We Hunt the Flame. With how it ended, I’m absolutely DYING for the sequel (and finale). I have no doubt in mind that it’s going to be even more epic, and I’ll get to see my faves banter again.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read We Hunt the Flame? If so, what did you think?
Who was your favourite character?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.