For my first book review I am going to talk about We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. Hafsah Faizal is a Muslim author and a niqabi which is wonderful because she lends a diverse voice to current YA . However, the book is not about Muslim characters but it is an Arab-inspired fantasy.
Which is really, really, cool.
I’ll try and keep this spoiler free so read without fear!
The first thing I want to say is that this book is full of the most gorgeous writing. You could probably open up to a random page and the first line you read would be an excellent quote. You can tell every line has been painstakingly crafted and it’s amazing.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into the story!
The book is set in an ancient Arabian inspired setting, called Arawiya. I really enjoyed this because while I am not of Arabian descent I caught a lot of the cultural references and recognized many of the Arabic words. I definitely recommend reading if you want to familiarize yourself with other cultures!
The characters are angsty, to say the least. Which is to say, they have some pretty terrible backstories. Zafira, the Huntress, must disguise herself as a man to be able to hunt and feed her people. She is the only one capable of entering the forest of Arz. Her country has been plunged into eternal snow due to magic disappearing from Arawiya and her family life is a bit sad (or a whole lot sad) which she maybe blames herself for. A bit. Which builds a lot of tension and imo, she’s a pretty tough character. Huntresses are cool.
Nasir, the Prince of Death and the other POV character in the book has probably the most angst-filled inner dialogue. That’s the way I see him, anyway. He’s an assassin, again, pretty cool. (Is it bad that I like characters who kill for a living? Is there something wrong with me?) He’s been sent by his (evil evil evil) father to retrieve the Jawarat to restore magic to Arawiya. Which of course, is the exact same thing Zafira is trying to do. Dun dun dun! Tension!
Sadly, I kinda liked the non-POV characters more than the POV characters. I’m not sure why. Altair got the most on the page time of the three non-POV characters (And I believe it’s hinted he’ll have a POV in the sequel, but don’t quote me on that) which was fun because he adds a lot of humor to the story and is a tease to the others. I like angst but it’s good to have a little relief! I also found Benyamin, the Safin to be really cool. He tried to keep everyone happy even though he was a bit pretentious. He and Altair were a good balance to the rest of the group. And lastly, I really wanted more of Kifah. A warrior woman! I wanted more! While I love huntresses I love warrior women just this much more.
I also got to meet Hafsah Faizal a few months ago which was awesome! She was really nice and talked a lot about writing. I recommend going to an event if she ever tours near you!
Overall I really liked this book and I’m super excited for the sequel!
Thanks for reading everyone and don’t forget to check out We Hunt the Flame!