We Hunt the Flame, Hafsah Faizal – Book Review

Hello Humans! I feel like everyone and their mum has been talking about We Hunt the Flame – and for good reason! This book has thoroughly rocked the book-osphere and I’m delighted that a UK publisher has picked it up so even more people can read it. This is, therefore, one of those complicated situations where I have actually bought the book (thankyou Illumicrate) and also got sent a copy of the book for free from the publisher on Netgalley!

Whichever way you slice it, my opinion is my own and I’m thrilled to share it with you!

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Goodreads 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.

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

I’ll start this review with my standard disclaimer that this is me, a white lady, reviewing a book written by a woman of colour with readers of colour in mind. I’d be naive to think I can have the same experience reading this book as they might – so I urge you to seek out reviews from those readers as they will have more insight on those particular elements than I do – and also it’s great to support bloggers of colour!

I’ll start by saying that this book was difficult for me to start – I think that’s because I was originally trying to read it digitally, but the first couple of chapters didn’t grab me. If you have a similar experience I really urge you to keep going. This book picks up so quickly after those first ten or fifteen pages and once I got there I read it in two days – it would have been one but I work a nine to five so can’t devote as much time to reading as I might like!

It feels like a while since I read a really good dual POV YA fantasy novel where the two POVs were love interests. I mean I’ve read a whole host of terrible ones but this was different. (Side note: I had the audiobook of The Traitor’s Game and I just thought it was awful – steer clear). This book got it right. It managed to steer clear of that problem where you as a reader are practically screaming ‘JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER’ at the page! The dynamic between Zafira and Nazir is just wonderful – I enjoyed reading it, the tension was expertly handled – just great characterisation and balancing of viewpoints.

So much of the marketing for this book has emphasised the ‘disguised as a boy’ aspect of the story. While it is emphasised over and over again that if Zafira is found out then bad things will happen, the amount of time she spends disguised is not as much as I would have expected. The ‘reveal’ happens pretty early on in the story (and for those wondering it isn’t a horrible and violating ‘tearing off the bindings’ kind of a reveal – thank goodness) and for the most part Zafira is herself. I personally see that as a strength to the story as it meant that other tensions and difficulties could take precedence over the ‘how will I take a bath’ with which we’re all familiar. Again, Hafsah Faizal manages to balance what might be a played out YA trope with exceptional skill!

I loved Hafsah Faizal’s writing. Those two sentences at the start of the summary are a great example of the power that she has with words. I thought that the opening sentences to the chapters in this book best showed that expertise, some of them I had to read multiple times because I was just in awe of how she had managed to put words together like that. As something of an aspiring writer, I can only hope to have that kind of skill one day. It’s the writing that really makes this book stand out from other similar titles. It’s some of the finest craft I’ve ever had the pleasure to read in a debut and I’m thoroughly excited for more people to encounter and love this book.

It’s very clear that this is the first book in a series (or duology? – I’m not sure), as the plot isn’t really resolved through this book. I personally didn’t mind how this happened, it wasn’t a sudden sequel hook at the end of an otherwise complete story. The only sadness for me is that I now have to wait an excruciatingly long time for the sequel – I mean May next year? That’s practically torture.

My rating: 5/5 stars

As I say, I did get sent a copy of this book for free but I also bought one myself. All opinions are my own.

We Hunt the Flame publishes in the UK on August 8th and is available in the US now!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? Have you read this? Are you excited? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

J

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