Review: We Hunt the Flame

Title: We Hunt the Flame
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 472
Review copy: Purchased
Availability: On shelves now

Publisher Summary:
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.

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.

Review: For several months I haven’t been in the mood for fantasy, but a friendly worker at the local bookstore convinced me that this should be my next book . She gushed and I’m glad she did. The cover did a bit of persuading too. The contrast of the darkness with the gold lettering is lovely. Zafira is also staring out at readers with a rather mesmerizing gaze. I couldn’t really turn away.

I loved getting to known Zafira. Her hunting abilities impress everyone, but she’s burdened by a lot of fear. One of her greatest fears is getting lost in the forest. She’s also concerned that others will somehow find out that she is not a man. To accomplish her goals, Zafira hides herself because women are not only valued less than men, they are believed to cause harm. Women are to blame for everything that is wrong in the world. Her loved ones encourage Zafira to show her true self so others will realize that they are mistaken about women, but she is not ready to take that chance. Fear doesn’t stop her from setting out on a deadly quest though. She’s searching for something outside and inside. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with and I wanted to see if she would break out of her self-imposed cage.

The story begins with Zafira, but in the second chapter, we meet Nasir. From then on, the perspective continues to shift back and forth. Nasir is the tormented Prince of Death. He’s a good looking murderer who still has a sliver of compassion his father keeps trying to eradicate. Zafira is all honor and Nasir is the bad boy who may possibly still be redeemable. Yes, it’s a familiar storyline, but it’s still a fun and exciting tale because there are many mysteries and secrets and of course magic.

The land of Arawaiya is an interesting one as are the people and creatures that live there including those closest to Zafira and Nasir. Deen, the brother of Zafira’s best friend, is protective and is more than a little swoon worthy. Altair, a general who hangs around with Nasir, is clever, easy on the eyes, and seems to get much joy from being antagonistic. There are also a few seriously vile players in this book, but that’s to be expected with ancient evil rearing its head. 

Arabic words are scattered throughout the book and while there isn’t a glossary in the book, the author does provide one online. I don’t think I ever had to consult the glossary to understand what was going on, but I found it interesting to explore.

Recommendation: There are a few predictable aspects of the story, but the Hafsah Faizal still provides plenty of surprises. Get it now – especially if like me you’re looking to jump back into fantasy. In We Hunt the Flame evil abounds, but there is still hope.