My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Title: We Hunt the Flame
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Format: Hardcover (borrowed)
Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
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 sultan. 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 Zafira and Nasir 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 sultan 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.
That first line of the blurb pretty much says it all about the two main characters that we follow in We Hunt the Flame.
Zafira is the Hunter, or Huntress, but almost everyone thinks she is a man. She is the only one who can brave the Arz, a cursed forest that devours the land and the people that venture inside it. Because Zafira is the only known person to survive the Arz, she is the one that hunts and provides meat for her village.
Nasir is a hashashin (assassin) but also, the crown prince who cannot seem to fight the will of his father, the sultan. The sultan is cruel and possessed by some dark magic that has Nasir wishing for the life he had before his father turned evil.
There is a quest for Zafira to find a book called the Jawarat. She hopes when she finds it, it will restore the lost magic to the people of Arawiya. Nasir’s part in this quest is somewhat different than hers. In this quest we also meet other players and learn what is really at stake if they fail to retrieve the book.
Is the story predictable? Sure it is and I have definitely read many fantasies about a girl on a quest and an evil prince out to stop her, and needing magic to be restored to the land and people. But this book is so beautifully written. I was seriously involved in googling words I didn’t know (I love learning something new), and looking at the map in the book, studying the layout of the land because I was absolutely intrigued about this world! I love learning about the supernatural beings in Arabic culture that was featured in this book.
It’s not a book that starts right off with action. Act 1 is definitely building the world and introducing us to Zafira, her friends, her family, her life and some of the history of Arawiya. Some might find it too slow, but I’ve learned with books like these, I just have to put it down and pick it up later with no pressure and go with the flow. But I did read this in a day and a half, so that’s pretty good!
We also meet Nasir, oh Nasir…his life is so different from Zafira, but his upbringing is just so sad. The quest brings them together and breaks them and mends them in ways they didn’t expect.
There is a slow burn romance, it is definitely an enemies to lovers situation, but I don’t think it took over the story. I thought for a moment there would be a love triangle but there wasn’t, though it was interesting how Zafira dealt with the loss of her best-friend, who was a potential suitor. The other characters in the story from Yasmine, Zafira’s bold best-friend to Altair who is that annoying yet very charming guy with a secret brought so much to the story. I enjoyed the interaction between all of them whether it was funny or tense, it made me care for these characters. There is love there, especially with Zafira and her family and friends. ❤️
The story navigates many emotions like grief, guilt, love and fear. But I really resonated with the message of teamwork in this book. Everyone had a role, everyone plays a part, even if Zafira and Nasir are usually lone hunters, they had to learn and lean on one another. The book starts off on the assumption that Zafira is the chosen one, but she’s not, she wouldn’t have had success in this quest without the others.
I don’t usually talk about titles to books but this one, We Hunt the Flame, is so meaningful. In the book the phrase means to be always looking for hope, hope being the flame. But I realized after reading it, the characters were all hunting for something. Nasir wondering if anyone will ever love him 😔, Zafira hunting for forgiveness and bravery to be the woman she is, the Silver Witch righting a wrong, and so forth. We all hunt the flame…whatever the flame is to us.
Over, We Hunt the Flame is a lush Arabic inspired fantasy novel that is beautifully told and that gave me characters I cared about and leaves me looking forward to the next book.