Happy Monday, friends! (If a Monday can be called that.) I’m so excited to share my review of We Hunt the Flame with you! This is one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I was thrilled to be able to pick up an ARC from this year’s North Texas Teen Book Festival back in March! A huge thank you to the Fierce Reads team for handing them out!
All quotes are taken from the ARC and may change in the final, published copy.
Content warning: physical and verbal abuse, (mention of) suicide
Title: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1)
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Expected release date: May 14, 2019
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 480 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “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.
Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.”
“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”
One thing I enjoyed so much about this novel, especially as the book progressed, is how each chapter is like a gentle unfolding of layers, each revealing their own place in the novel as a whole in terms of world-building and character development. I adored the concept, and thought it was well executed. I love a good story about magic, and this classic enemies-to-lovers (possibly?) trope. However, my main problem with the book is the pacing. The ARC alone is a whopping 467 pages (Goodreads counts the final book at 480 pages), which is quite large for a YA book (though I do find fantasy books becoming longer and longer, which isn’t a bad thing!), and sometimes I felt…lost. I understood the main goal of the main character, Zafira and her companions but getting to it was labor intensive, not only for the characters but also for me as well, lol.
But what really made up for the slow pacing was all the revelations, especially in the latter half of the book! Like whaaaaaaat?! I’m over here flipping pages as fast as I can! Despite this, there were times I felt a little lost. Maybe it’s just me but the overall quest got lost sometimes.
“He knew the weight of anguish that could drown a city in sand. He knew that look, that feeling. To watch a loved one suffer. To know one could have done so much but can now do nothing at all.”
All of these characters are so precious! Please protect them at all costs! I definitely felt like the book picked up in the latter in terms of character development and even a bit of the plot. Zafira, Nasir, Altair, Benyamin, and Kifah become reluctant companions (I really don’t think friends is a word either of them would use at this point. Well, maybe Altair, and only to get on Nasir’s nerves, hahaha) on this journey together. The author really has a way of drawing you to these characters, with their heartbreaking backstories, the banter between Altair and Nasir, and even the lovely tender moments between certain characters (really, they were SO GOOD, I’m screaming!). These characters came to rely on each other, too, (also reluctantly!) and I really enjoyed joining them on their journey. I also loved how we see each of them playing an important role and how it seems to tie together (in a sense) at the end.
Faizal’s writing is completely engrossing. Her characters are realistic, her descriptions are lovely (all the ones about food had me drooling!), and I love the atmosphere she builds within this novel, whether it’s the world-building or with the characters–she really makes you feel. I’m super excited to see what else is in store for the crew in the next book, and and even more excited to hold a finished copy in my hands!
Check out these other reviews:
- Kaitlyn gave the book a whopping 5,000 stars if that’s at all possible. LOL
- Mahana at Sapphic Library gave this book 4.5 stars, and loved Faizal’s writing just as much as I did. 🙂
- Merline from MerlineReads explained why she chose to DNF the book.