We Hunt the Flame

“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

Zafira, known as the Hunter to her people, has long been disguising herself as a man and venturing into the cursed forest of Arz to help feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death and has long been killing those foolish enough to betray his father, the king. They are legends in the world of Arawiya, despite their reluctance.

Arawiya is being further engulfed in shadow by the day: the Arz grows closer to the city and wars are simmering on every front. When a mysterious witch appears to Zafira with a way to possibly save her people from these dangers, she goes on an adventure to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her world. Meanwhile, Nasir is sent on the same mission, to bring this artifact to his king. When their paths intertwine, they must decide whether to fight each other or to fight the darkness swallowing their country.

This is the release I’ve been hearing about all season, so I was highly anticipating it. I was worried, after the reviews began to come out so mixed, that it might not live up to the hype or my expectations. Did it? Not completely. But I didn’t need to worry either. There were ups and downs for me, but ultimately I enjoyed this diamond in the rough.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal wasn’t what I expected it to be, but that wasn’t a wholly bad thing. Specifically, the best part of this book is the incredibly rich and unique world that the characters tell their story in. Arawiya is equal parts lush and harsh, darkness creeping around every corner. Faizal has a gift for rendering settings around the reader as if they are tangible illusions the reader can hear, see, and touch. More of an accomplishment, We Hunt the Flame benefits from a huge and layered world without the weight of information being dumped on the reader at all times. It’s an impressive line to walk.

We Hunt the Flame does something different than a lot of fantasy books, which is to look at an Arabic-inspired world without demonizing or romanticizing the world itself. Making it a fantasy? Sure, but the heart and flavor of Arawiya feel authentic and vivid. It is home to romance and darkness, beauty and flaws, and some of the most hauntingly beautiful descriptions of a fantasy world I’ve read this year.

Zafira and Nasir, the main characters of this book, were interesting and compelling traveling companions. I liked that the author allowed her characters to go through major changes throughout the novel, developing along with their circumstances. Their enemies-to-lovers romance was a deliciously slow burn and throughout every obstacle placed in front of them I wanted them to succeed. I rooted for them to achieve the life they wanted, a better life full of peace, enough to eat, and magic.

The scaffold of the story is a familiar one to YA fantasy, which is probably my only…complaint isn’t the right word, but it’s the one thing I struggled with. The plot machinery itself is predictable, even while parts of it are still very enjoyable. I meandered through this book’s story like our characters meander through the forest, wondering when and where they might see light again. Some moments could’ve held more of a punch, had they not stayed to such traditional paths. I also think that this book could have been a little shorter and it might have benefited the pace.

What stood out most of all through this adventure though was the author’s passion, love, and intent for this story. This debut novel is eager and enthusiastic, dark and hypnotic, mesmerizing and romantic. I found more good things than bad in my journey through the dark and I look forward to seeing what else Faizal writes for us in the future.

“Together, we will raise the dunes from the earth, and rain death from the sky. Together, we are capable of anything.” 


It’s “What are you reading?” Wednesday!

I’ve seen a lot of bookish memes and list ideas here on the book-blogging circuit, and I wish I could do all of them! One of my favorites has been a trend of bloggers posting their current reads on Wednesdays.

This week I’ll be taking inspiration from Taking On a World of Words, and trying out their “WWW Wednesday!”

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

I have started so many books this week, it’s crazy town here! Here are just a few!

I’m about halfway through Claire Legrand’s new release sequel to Furyborn, Kingsbane, and I am really enjoying it so far. The last book ended on such an interesting twist that I was dying to find out how it would impact the group and dynamic, and I have not been disappointed. Look for a review on my blog for this one soon!

I jumped on the Illuminae train late, but damn it is so good! I’m buddy reading Gemina with a couple of friends in my book club and it continues to consistently shock and surprise me. I have yet to be emotionally stable all the way through one of Kaufman and Kristoff’s space dramas, and yet that’s honestly half the fun. I look forward to finishing this series this month!

Baby Teeth, by Zoje Stage, is my book choice for the Mark-up Book Exchange I’m participating in this year! I’m a third of the way into this intense little gem of a novel, and can I just say, “wow?” I cannot believe some of the things I am reading. I find myself shaking my head at this story in disbelief over and over and over again. I can’t wait to finish it! My guess is that I’ll fly through this one, so look for a review sometime in the next week or two.

What I’ve recently finished:

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal was probably one of the most anticipated releases of the Spring, I felt like I was reading about it everywhere. I just finished it this morning and I have to say, It wasn’t what I expected but it wasn’t bad! This unique novel covers a lot of ground, both wildly unfamiliar and sometimes too familiar, but I enjoyed it all the same. Look forward to my full review this week.

Internment by Samira Ahmed has been out for a while but I had yet to read it until this week. Damn. What a wonderful, depressingly realistic, beautiful statement of a piece. This book follows a “what if?” scenario in 2018 America where Muslims are brought to Internment camps like we once did with the Japanese in WWII. The parallels to our current political system were loud, bold, and unapologetic, and I appreciate this book’s existence. Would recommend.

Bodega by Su Hwang is a charming little collection of poems that I was so graciously granted a pre-release of by Milkweed Editions in exchange for an honest review. Bodega is about one girl’s experience growing up in a Korean-American family and the bodega they own in New York City. I loved the description and tangibility of this book, and I can’t wait to share my review with you all this week!

What I plan to read next:

I’m so excited about both of these!

How to Build a Heart is another wonderful ARC I received from Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. The synopsis, following a girl without roots trying to decide who she is, sounds heartfelt and compelling. I’ve heard good things about this author, so I’m excited to find out for myself!

With the Fire on High is the highly anticipated new release from Elizabeth Acevedo, author of The Poet X, which I also read this month. I loved The Poet X, Acevedo has such a vibrant and poignant voice. If the reviews are any indication, With the Fire on High is another hit, and I have been waiting eagerly to read it too.

Look for these reviews in the next few weeks.

What are you reading this week? What are you excited about? Tell me in the comments and have a great reading week!