A BuzzFeed Pick for "YA Books You Absolutely Must Read This Spring"
A Bustle's Most Anticipated 2019 YA Release
A Paste Magazine's Top 10 Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2019
A Paste Magazine Best YA Book of 2019
A PopSugar Best YA Book of 2019
"Lyrical and spellbinding" Marieke Njikamp, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, Hafsah Faizal's We Hunt the Flamefirst in the Sands of Arawiya duologyis a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.
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 sultan. 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 Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiyabut 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 sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfoldsand the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.
About the Author
Hafsah Faizal is an American Muslim and brand designer. She’s the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. When she’s not writing, she can be found dreaming up her next design, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family and a library of books waiting to be devoured. WE HUNT THE FLAME is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
People lived because she killed. And if that meant braving the Arz where even the sun was afraid to glimpse, then so be it.
On the occasional good day, Zafira bint Iskandar mused that she was braver than the sun itself. Most days, she couldn't wait until the evernight Arz was behind her and she was firmly rooted in the plains of her caliphate, daama snow and all.
Today was one of those days, despite the antlers rough against her hands. She stepped free of the cursed prison of a forest, pretending her sigh was due to her task being complete rather than a product of the tightly coiled fear unwinding in her heart. The morning sun kissed her cheeks in welcome.
Marhaba to you, too, coward.
Sunlight was always faint in the caliphate of Demenhur, because the sun didn't know what to do with the snow that should be sand.
Before her, the sea of white rolled out smooth and pristine, gifting her a moment's contentment in her solitude, even as her toes numbed and the air crippled her nose. For in a caliphate where a woman's actions were always in danger of being turned against her, there was nothing easy about pretending to be a man. Not when she had the curves of a woman, and the voice and gait of one, too.
She dragged the deer carcass along, a trail of steam in her wake, the sullied snow an eerie crimson. There was a promise in the air. A stillness in the earth and in the whispering trees.
It's nothing. Paranoia had a way of visiting when he was least desired. She was a bundle of emotions because of the impending wedding, that was all.
Sukkar nickered from the rotting post where she had tethered him, blending in with his near-white coat. While she made quick work of tying the deer to her stallion's saddle, he remained still, as sweet as the name she had given him.
"We had a good hunt today," she said to the horse who hadn't helped, and swung onto his back.
Sukkar didn't react, content with staring across the distance into the Arz as if an ifrit would leap out and swallow him whole.
"Dastard," Zafira said, a smile on her numbing lips.
Though everyone was a coward when it came to the forest — each of the five caliphates that made up Arawiya were afraid of the Arz, for it rimmed those lands, too. It was a curse they'd shared ever since the land had been robbed of magic. Baba had taught Zafira that the Arz was, in many ways, simply a forest. He had taught her of ways to use it to her benefit. Ways to believe she could tame it, when in reality she could not. No one could.
His death had proved as much.
Zafira steered Sukkar away from the forest, toward the clearing and deeper into Demenhur. But the Arz was such that it always demanded one last glimpse. She paused and turned.
It watched. Breathed. Its skeleton trees reached with gnarled fingers steeped in swirling shadow.
Some said it devoured men like vultures on the dead. Yet Zafira returned, day after day, hunt after hunt. She was aware each venture could be her last, and though she swore she didn't fear much, finding herself lost was her biggest fear of all.
Still. There was a pulse deep inside her that relished those visits into the depths of darkness. She hated the Arz. She hated it so much, she craved it.
"Akhh, plenty of time to stare at the Arz every daama day," she said to Sukkar, a quiver to her voice. "We need to get back for the wedding, or Yasmine will have our heads."
Not that Sukkar cared. Zafira clucked her tongue and urged him forward, the tension escaping his taut muscles as the distance between them and the Arz grew.
Until the air heavied with another presence.
The small hairs on the nape of her neck lifted, and she threw a wary glance over her shoulder. The Arz stared back, as if with bated breath. No — whoever it was stood here in Demenhur, imitating the silence almost as well as she did.
If there was one thing she feared more than losing herself within the Arz, it was being caught unaware by a man who could prove she was no hunter but a huntress, a girl of seventeen concealed beneath the weight of her father's hooded cloak every time she hunted. Then she would be shunned, her victories derided. Her identity, viciously unraveled. The thought closed hands around her heart, the thud, thud, thud racing a little bit faster.
She spun Sukkar to face the Arz, kicking against the strains of his hesitation as a low command drifted on the wind, words undecipherable.
"Yalla." She urged him to hurry, voice tight.
He shook out his mane and cantered forward without protest. The air darkened as they neared the forest. Funny, Zafira was heading toward the unknown at the first sign of mortal danger.
The cold bit at her face. A blur of black sped from her right, a second blur from her left. Horses. She bit her lip and swerved Sukkar between them, ducking when something swung for her head.
"Qif!" someone yelled, but what kind of idiot would stop?
Sukkar. He froze at the border of the Arz and Zafira jerked in her saddle — a slap, reminding her that he had never ventured this close. Wood and sour decay assaulted her cold senses.
"Laa. Laa. Not now, you dastard," she hissed.
Sukkar threw his head but didn't budge. Zafira stared into the hushed darkness, and her breath faltered. The Arz wasn't a place to turn one's back to; it wasn't a place to be caught unaware and unsuspecting and —
With a curse, she veered Sukkar around, despite his protests.
The wind howled, cold and harsh. She was painfully aware of the Arz breathing down her back. Until she took in the two horses snorting a mere four paces away, coats dark as the night sky, powerful bodies cloaked in chain mail. War horses.
Bred in one place alone: the neighboring caliphate of Sarasin.
Or possibly Sultan's Keep. It was hard to tell which, when Arawiya's sultan had recently murdered Sarasin's caliph in cold blood, unlawfully seizing control of land and armies the sultan had no need for — not when Arawiya rested under his control, and not when he had the Sultan's Guard at his beck and call. The caliphs existed for balance. He wasn't supposed to kill them.
Atop their horses, the men's bare arms were corded with muscle, faces cut with harsh lines. They were the color of people who knew life beneath a sun, the ebb and flow of the desert Zafira longed for.
"Yalla, Hunter," the larger man said, as if she were cattle to be herded, and her eyes fell to the scimitar in his grasp.
If Zafira had any doubts on where they were from, the timbre of his voice was enough. Her throat closed in on itself. Being tracked by gossiping Demenhune was one thing; being attacked by Sarasins was another.
She lowered her head so that her hood obscured more of her face. She braved the darkness; she slew rabbits and deer. She had never stood before a blade.
But for all their might, the men held their distance. Even they were afraid of the Arz. Zafira lifted her chin.
"Whatever for?" she drawled over the sudden hiss of the wind. She had people to feed and a bride as beautiful as the moon to say goodbye to. Why me?
"To meet the sultan," the smaller man said.
The sultan? Skies. The man had shorn more fingers from hands than hair from his head. People said he had been good once, but Zafira found that hard to believe. He was Sarasin by birth, and Sarasins, she had been told all her life, were born without a shred of good in their hearts.
Panic flared in her chest again, but she lowered her voice. "If the sultan wanted to see me, he would respect me with a letter, not his hounds. I'm no criminal."
The small man opened his mouth upon being likened to a dog, but the other shifted his blade and drew closer. "This isn't a request." A pause, as if he realized his fear of the Arz wouldn't allow him to move any farther, and then, "Yalla. Come forward."
No. There had to be a way out. Zafira pursed her lips in realization. If there was one thing other than barbarism Sarasins were known for, it was pride.
She whispered sweet nothings to Sukkar. Maybe it was the men, or maybe it was the war horses, mighty and intimidating, but her loyal horse took a step back. It was the closest he had ever gone to the Arz, and Zafira was going to torture him with much more. She gave the men a crooked smile, her lips cracked and likely colorless from the cold. "Come and fetch me."
"You have nowhere to go."
"You forget, Sarasin. The Arz is my second home."
She stroked Sukkar's mane, steeled her heart, and steered him into the dark.
It swallowed her whole.
She tried, tried, tried not to acknowledge the way it welcomed her, elated whispers brushing her ears. A surge in her bloodstream. Hunger in her veins.
Dark trees stood eerie and unyielding, leaves sharp and glinting. Distantly, she heard the gallop of hooves as the Sarasins shouted and followed. Vines crunched beneath Sukkar's hooves, and Zafira's sight fell to near blindness.
Except for his panicked breathing, Sukkar was mercifully quiet as Zafira listened for the men, her own heart an echoing thud. Despite their fear, they had followed, for pride was a dangerous thing.
Yet only silence drummed at her ears — like the moment after a blade's unsheathing. The halt after the first howl of wind.
They were gone.
For once she appreciated the fearsome, incalculable strangeness of the Arz that made the men disappear. The two Sarasins could be leagues away, and neither she nor they would ever know it. Such was the Arz. This was why so many people who entered never returned — they couldn't find their way back.
A soft hiss sounded from the east, and she and Sukkar froze. She could see little of his white coat, but years of returning again and again had sharpened her hearing better than any blade. She saw with her ears in the Arz. Footsteps echoed, and the temperature careened downward.
"Time to go home," Zafira murmured, and Sukkar shivered as he edged forward, guided by her hand, by that rushing whisper in her heart. Sated only when she moved.
The darkness ebbed away to a soft blue sky and the distant throb of the sun. At once, she felt a yawning emptiness as the cold stung her nostrils, scented with metal and a hint of amber.
The Sarasins, it seemed, hadn't been so lucky. How long ago had the three of them ridden into the Arz? It couldn't have been more than twenty minutes, but the position of the sun claimed it had been at least an hour.
Zafira didn't want to know whether the sultan had really sent for her. Or, if so, why. It was the why that caused Sukkar to snort beneath her, ever aware. One thing at a time, he seemed to say.
Where the war horses had stood, the snow was now smooth and —
She yanked on Sukkar's reins.
A woman stood against the plains of white.
A heavy cloak of gray, no, shimmering silver sat on her slender shoulders above a sweeping red gown. Her raised hood barely covered the top of her stark hair, as white as the snow. Her lips were crimson, a curve of blood.
Zafira swore the woman hadn't been there a moment ago. A gallop began in her chest.
The Arz depraves an idle mind.
"Who knew you could kill so swiftly," the woman said in a voice of silk.
Did the Arz conjure voices to its illusions, too?
"I am no assassin. I only evaded them," Zafira said, realizing a beat later that she shouldn't respond to an illusion. She hadn't killed those men — had she?
"Clever." The woman smiled after a pause. "You truly do emerge sane and in one piece." A gust billowed her cloak. Her dark eyes drifted across the first line of the Arz trees with an odd mix of awe and — skies — adoration.
The woman wavered and solidified. Real and not.
"It's a lot like Sharr, isn't it?" Then she shook her head, every movement deliberate.
Fear simmered beneath Zafira's skin at the mention of Sharr.
"Oh, how could I ask such a tease of a question?" she continued. "You haven't been to the island yet."
Are you real? Zafira wanted to ask. She demanded instead, "Who are you?"
The woman fixed her with that glittering gaze, bare hands clasped. Did she not feel the sting of the cold? Zafira tightened her fingers around Sukkar's reins.
"Tell me, why do you hunt?"
"For my people. To feed them," Zafira said. Her back ached and the deer was beginning to smell.
The woman clucked her tongue with a slight frown, and Sukkar trembled. "No one can be that pure."
Zafira must have blinked, for the woman was suddenly closer. Another blink, despite her best efforts, and the woman had moved away again.
"Do you hear the roar of the lion? Do you heed its call?"
Where did this loon crawl from? "The tavern is in the sooq, if you're looking for more arak." But Zafira's usual candor was hindered by the tightening in her throat.
The woman laughed, a tinkling that stilled the air. Then Zafira's vision wavered, and the snow was suddenly clothed in shadow. Black bled into the white, tendrils reaching for Zafira's ankles.
"Dear Huntress, a woman like me has no need for drink."
Huntress. The reins slipped from Zafira's hands.
"How —" The words died on her tongue.
A smile twisted the woman's lips, and with it, Zafira's heart. It was the type of smile that meant she knew Zafira's secrets. The type of smile that meant no one was safe.
"You will always find your way, Zafira bint Iskandar," the woman said. She sounded almost sad, though the glint in her eyes was anything but. "Lost you should have remained, cursed child."
The silver of her cloak flashed when she turned, and then Zafira must have blinked again.
Because the woman had vanished.
Zafira's heart clambered to her throat. Her name. That smile. There was no sign of the bleeding black or the silver cloak now. The snow was pristine as the claws in her brain loosened.
Then Sukkar was off before she could regain her hold on his reins.
She fumbled with a shout, sitting tall to keep from tumbling to the snow. He continued on a mad dash until they crested the slope and stumbled to a stop.
Zafira jerked back, cursing until Sukkar ducked his head with a dignified snort. Breathe. Assess. She looked back at the evernight forest once more, but the woman was nowhere to be seen. It was almost as if Zafira had imagined the entire encounter.
Perhaps she had. Zafira knew the Arz better than most, which was to say she understood that no one could ever know its secrets. To trust in its wickedness was to court a tortured death.
Do you hear the roar of the lion?
It wasn't a roar Zafira heard. Something else beckoned from the darkness, enticing her. Growing with her every visit. It was as if a thread of her heart had snagged in the forest and was trying to reel her back in.
She drew in a sharp breath. Exhaustion had conjured the woman, that was all.
And now she was late. She veered Sukkar around with a huff. She had a dress to don and a wedding to catch.CHAPTER 2
People died because he lived. And if that was the only way to carry forward in this life, then so be it.
There had been a particularly strong blizzard in the neighboring caliphate of Demenhur three nights ago, and Sarasin was chillier because of it. The combination of desert heat and the wayward cold rattled Nasir's bones, yet here he was, far from his home in Sultan's Keep, the small portion of land from which the sultan ruled Arawiya's five caliphates.
Nasir's missions to Sarasin always gave him a sense of nostalgia he never could understand. Though he had never lived here, it was the caliphate of his lineage, and it felt familiar and strange at once.
He came here for one act alone: murder.
Leil, the capital of Sarasin, was crawling with armed men in turbans of azure. Three stood guard at the entrance to the walled city. Billowing sirwal, instead of tighter-fitting pants, hung low across their hips, vain muscled arms glistened bronze. A gust of desert air carried the musky odor of hot sands, along with the chatter of children and their scolding elders.
Nasir studied the sentries and slid from his mare's back with a heavy sigh. He had no need for a skirmish with a horde of lowborn men.
"Looks like I'll be taking the long route," he murmured, rubbing a hand across Afya's flank. She nickered a reply, and he tethered her beside a sleepy-eyed camel. She was his mother's horse, named after her favorite of the Six Sisters of Old.
He climbed a stack of aging crates and leaped from awning to awning of the surrounding structures, balancing on jutting stones, his ears still ringing with orders from the Sultan of Arawiya. He likened the sultan's voice to a snake, softly creeping into his veins and penetrating his heart with venom.
He scaled the wall and leaped onto the nearest rooftop with practiced ease, sidestepping the ornate rug sprawled in its center, jewel-toned cushions strewn to one side.
Sarasin's open skies were as bleak as his thoughts and forever downcast in gray, brightened only by the expectant hum of the upcoming camel race. He had little interest in the race itself — he was here for the cover it provided and the man it promised.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "We Hunt the Flame"
Copyright © 2019 Hafsah Faizal.
Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Act I. Silver as A Crescent Moon,
Act II. A Long Way from Home,
Act III. The Lies We Eat,
Advance Praise for We Hunt the Flame,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Absolutely stunning! I love this book the moment I read the first page and was heartbroken when it came to an end. I can't wait to read more!!!
I had high expectations for this book and it delivered. I immediately fell in love with Zafira. She is independent, strong willed, and does her best to provide for her family and village. She hunts in the forbidden Arz to feed the poor village. She has to pretend to be a man since the leader of her caliph hates women and blames them for everything bad, including the disappearance of magic. Her hunting skills have caught everybody's attention and she's known as the Hunter throughout the kingdom. She would do anything for her sister and village. It took a while for me to warm up to Nasir and I may still not really like him. He still has a bit of growth to do. He's his father's, aka the king's, puppet. He does whatever the king orders, even if he disagrees with it. If he shows any hesitation or weakness, his father has ways of punishing him. His father uses Nasir to assassinate anybody who threatens his position. Nasir knows what he's doing is wrong and sees the darkness in his father, but continues doing the king's bidding, hoping the person he used to be is still inside. Zafira and Nasir are on a collision course as they both need to acquire an artifact to bring back magic. Zafira does it because she wants to protect her village from being consumed by the Arz. With magic returned, the Arz will disappear. Nasir because his father ordered him to. He doesn't know why and he doesn't ask. Nasir also needs Zafira since she's the only one who can find it. A few new characters join them as they journey closer to the artifact. I enjoyed the distinct character personalities and how they interacted. Zafira has been providing for her family and village alone for so long she has trouble adjusting to working with a group. Nasir knows his mission and is wary of getting close to anybody, but he was sent with the Captain, who is his opposite in so many ways. He also knows Nasir's secrets. You see the characters get to know each other in one on one settings as well as the group dynamics. They are all withholding information so they choose at different times to trust and at times to refuse to move without more answers.
I loved the world building, the lush writing, and the slow-burn romance.
We Hunt the Flame is a gem of a book. It checks many of the boxes in the list of qualities and tropes that make me love a book: a vibrant, well-built world, enemies-to-lovers (!!) + slow burn romance, badass characters that I would protect with my life, gorgeous writing, and an ending that left me desperate for the next book in the series!
4.5 stars We Hunt the Flame reminds me of books like Ember in the Ashes and City of Brass, two series I love. This world created by Faizal is just as good, filled with magic, jinn, efreet, death, family, so much good and full, three dimensional characters. Nasin has been added to my list of favorites as the tortured assassin, forced to kill at his cruel father’s whims, who also happens to be the sultan. I didn’t expect to like this book so much and am happily surprised.
This book is absolutely stunning. I was obsessed with Zafira and Nasir from beginning to end. I honestly cannot wait to have the second book in my hands! Altair was by far one of my favorite characters. He's got sass, and just makes the perfect foil for the Crown Prince of Arawiya. I can't say enough about this beautiful book!
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year & now it’s become hands down one of my favorite books EVER. Before I talk about what I loved (everything), lets see what We Hunt the Flame is about. This novel is an ancient arabia inspired fantasy that follows two point of views, Zafira Bnt Iskandar, & Nasir Ghamiq. One of them is a huntress & the other is the crown prince of Arawiya. Two people that never thought they’d ever have to cross paths, let alone embark on a journey to a bloodthirsty, mysterious island together. We follow them as they become part of a Zumra (a gang) to find the Lost Jawarat so they can restore magic to their home. What I loved: ➳ The writing You know how easy it was to forget this was a debut novel? VERY. That’s how good the writing in We Hunt the Flame was. I lost myself in this whimsical world filled with assassins, magic, & cursed islands so easily & that’s all due to Hafsah’s ability to write literal magic between these pages. Her way with words was brilliant & never failed to give me actual goosebumps. I also have 100+ passages/quotes highlighted so that’s really saying something… ➳ The characters We follow an amazing cast of morally grey characters in this book, who learn to call themselves the Zumra. They all have so much to them & are such well rounded characters. The character development was PHENOMENAL & I can’t wait to see my precious’s grow even more. The banter between them had me laughing out loud. The way they learned to trust & grow with each other was so fascinating to read about. These characters felt so REAL, that at times it felt like I was intruding on them…. Please zumra, accept me in your gang? Also every time Altair & Nasir insulted each other really spoke to my soul.. Kifah, Zafira, Altair, Benyamin, & Nasir deserve us all to bow down to them, bye. ➳ The world building & plot Arawiya is a complex place but it was explained so smoothly that I never found myself confused, which is so unlikely nowadays with fantasy books. I was immediately invested in the story because of that. The world is vast & beautiful, & so so atmospheric that I already feel like rereading since I miss it so much… But my TBR is staring daggers at me, much like how Nasir stares at Altair.. Okay anyways, the plot. IT WAS WONDERFUL. While this novel is very character driven, it never took away from the plot or story. It was so unique & mysterious, & gave me all the creepy vibes I never knew I needed. Everything was put together cleverly & it never felt messy or all over the place. The twists…. The heartbreak.. It was painful yet here I am… Telling you all to go read it because it was the most beautiful pain. All in all, a more than solid fantasy debut who deserves all the hype it can get. I am so happy I read it because it’s always such a great feeling to add a book to your favorites. Now… Here starts the wait for the sequel…
I am very sad and disappointed that I did not enjoy We Hunt the Flame as much as I thought I would because I was very much so anticipating it. I had some issues with it and even now when I think about it, I didn’t feel anything. I had no connection to the world or the story and I believe that is because it wasn’t very developed. I also felt like the world building was lacking quite a bit. I never felt anything for the characters sadly and I think that’s because. I don’t feel like the characters themselves where very developed nor where the relationships. Another problem I had was as I was reading I for some reason kept forgetting everything that happened in the previous chapter…Everything was just quite bland and boring. I also thought it was quite odd how the heroines only friend, the only person she really cared about in the beginning of the novel passed away for seemingly no reason and I know everyone deals with grief differently but right after the chapter finished we barely saw the heroine struggling with the death of her friend. 20 chapters went by and we didn’t hear a peep about the chapter so it seemed to me like she couldn’t care less. Very odd. The novel was filled with tropes, which I didn’t mind because they were ones I enjoyed reading about even though they are in most YA Fantasy novels but this one didn’t bring anything unique to the table. There wasn’t anything that separated from the 100 other novels I’d read before so I felt that was executed poorly. It became more of a task to read than anything by the end of it that I actually started to skim it and I’m really upset that I didn’t enjoy anything. I feel bad for leaving such a negative review but I wanted to share my opinions but I hope you all enjoy it more than I did.
Likes This book is honestly one of my most hyped of 2019! I've been a fan of Hafsah's since she started IceyDesigns and I was so excited to hear she was writing a book. I didn't know what to expect going into it but I liked it more than I could've imagined! First, the world-building in this book is insane. I felt like I was in the story along with Zafira and her comrades and that is what I want from a fantasy. I want to be wrapped up in the world and forget about where I even am when I'm reading it. This hit that mark! I appreciated all of the Arabian-inspired elements to this book because I don't really know much about that culture. I am always interested in books that can teach me about a culture--from an own voices standpoint, too--and this satisfied that for me as well. Zafira was by far my favorite character in this novel. She is such a badass female character and I loved her! She reminded me that I regret not learning how to do archery because it sounds SO. COOL. Her character arc throughout the novel is also impressive! My second favorite character was Altair. He was so sarcastic and funny, I couldn't get enough of him. He was definitely the entertaining factor in this story and I thought he was just wonderful. I felt like the progression of the story felt natural and there were twists and turns, especially towards the end, that completely threw me for a loop. I cannot wait to read the sequel to this one. We Hunt the Flame is a unique story that everyone should read! Dislikes My only real dislike about this book was the pacing. I felt like it was pretty slow the first half and quickly picked up in the second half. I was invested enough in the characters to push through the slow parts and it really paid off.
A dark, lush and magical story set in a world that is inspired by ancient Arabia. Main characters that set out on an adventure – with a side dish of one trying to kill the other. Beautiful writing that will tuck you in and won’t let you go until you finish the book – and might stay even then. WE HUNT THE FLAME is Hafsah Faizal’s debut novel and more than worthy to get picked up. Bonus: lots of hidden Assassin’s Creed references! First things first – I was lucky enough to become a part of Hafsah’s Street Team prior to the publication of WE HUNT THE FLAME and got to read the book before most readers. So while some might now think that this review isn’t completely honest, this isn’t the truth. I love this book with all my heart and devoured it in the span of a day way back in February. It instantly became one of my favourites but I am still not fully able to write a proper review. I am too fascinated by what Hafsah created and can’t wait to read the next installment of the duology. But since this won’t happen over the next few weeks (I mean, WE HUNT THE FLAME released two days ago. I’m not really patient, as you can see!), I’ll instead try to write my thoughts down. Most of all, I fell in love with the characters. All of them have their own motivations as well as personal demons to face. They end up on the same adventure even though their goals differ. I loved some more than others (can’t say more, because this review shall be free of spoilers!), but overall I connected with all of them sooner or later. They were beautifully written and even though the synopsis focuses heavily on Zafira and Nasir, there are way more characters than just the two of them. A personal favourite was the topic of enemies-to-lovers, of which I can’t get enough of! But the romance here is very slow burn and while some people might not like that, it was perfect for the story. What I also loved was the lyrical writing. Hafsah created a wonderful world and gave insights about what happened in Arawiya before the story starts. Her descriptions of this lush world are breathtaking and it was easy to imagine how it might look. The plot evolved in a great way and held so many twists and turns I didn’t expect. What I’m not completely sure about is the pacing of the story – at some times it felt a bit off or too slow. Some scenes were too far apart or felt like they dragged on. But as this is Hafsah’s debut, I don’t want to criticize this aspect too harshly. Her already beautiful writing might change in the future and she will definitely find her way as an author. All in all, WE HUNT THE FLAME is a gorgeous book and a worthy debut for this young author. While there might be some issues, it’s still easily one of my favourite reads this year and I’d recommend it to everyone who’d like to have some magic in their life.
This book was so much fun and an awesome story to live in. The characters were awesome, the writing was fun, and the story was amazing. Definitely recommend.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal is generating a lot of buzz, and for good reason. It’s an own-voices fantasy inspired by Arabian myths, with a lush setting, captivating characters, and a deliciously twisty plotline. The first in a duology, We Hunt the Flame is a perfectly seductive read. My first reaction upon finishing this book was just an explosion of emotional gibberish. We Hunt the Flame is just everything I love in a book. A lush, dreamy fantasy world that feels both wholly unique, while it’s ancient Arabia inspiration is still ever-present. The characters are SO so wonderful and fully wrought — Zafira and her desire to be loved; poor, tortured Nasir; sassy & salacious Altair (oh, my beloved Altair!), and the list goes on. (But seriously. Dibs on Altair.) I was actually pleasantly surprised by what a fantastic ensemble cast of characters this book contained, as the synopsis mostly focuses on Zafira & Nasir. And while it IS mostly their story, they are part of a group that really took hold of my heart. The book nerd community best prepare itself for a whole new meaning to the idea of #SquadGoals — because these characters are my new favorite fictional team. And of course, Hafsah’s gorgeous, lyrical writing. I jotted down so many quotes while reading, and that’s something I rarely do! Her words completely sweep you away to the world of Arawiya — you can smell the air, taste the food, feel the heat on your skin. Hafsah’s writing transports you right into the heart of the story. And don’t even get me started on some of those intense, swoony scenes! I melt just thinking about them, and the way Hafsah has created such insane tension between her characters. The plot of We Hunt the Flame moved quickly, but in so many unexpected ways. I truly wasn’t sure where things were headed until we got there, and it made for an exciting experience. But also I am now DYING to know what happens next and can’t wait to read the conclusion. Oh boy, it’s gonna be a long wait — but well worth it, I am sure.
Very minor spoilers. This was a very enjoyable read. Nasir, Prince of Death, is very mysterious, which is always a plus :) The author does a good job of getting the reader to fall for him as the heroine eventually does, with minimum physical descriptors. Zafira is very courageous and I want to be her when I grow up :) She fills the role of a man by hunting and feeding her village when the local political leaders look down on women. Everyone believes her to be a man, only known as The Hunter, when in fact, she’s the Huntress. It was nice seeing her grow more comfortable in her role and embrace it. I really liked the camaraderie developed in the group helping Zafira with her mission, and their cool magical affinities glimpsed here and there. I’ll be adding the next book on my TBR. I knocked one star off because I felt it was a bit too wordy, especially the first quarter to third of the book (I bet at least 30 pages minimum could been taken out).
BADASS HEROIN!! ASSASSINS!! HATE-TO-LOVE!! MAGIC!! What do you do when you finally read a book that gives you 1: life, 2: a dire need to marry an assassin (which is not very safe but you gave up that lifestyle long ago), 3: an epic adventure that satiates the insatiable need for hate-to-love tropes, 4: laugh out loud one-liners that help you laugh through the pain, and 5: just overall so perfect that you can’t put it down for 5 SECONDS???? Yeah, I have no idea. Probably just stare at a blank word doc trying to put words to how real the afterglow of reading this book is. Read my FULL REVIEW here: https://blissfulreveries.wordpress.com/2019/04/14/book-review-we-hunt-the-flame/
OMG THIS BOOK!!!!! I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN!! THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING YOU WANT AND NEED IN FANTASY!!! Slow-burn romance, sassy men (Altair the love of my life!), fierce female characters, a rich fantasy world, and overall fierce badas*ery! I knew Hafsah from buying the amazing things from her Etsy shop and had the pleasure of reading We Hunt the Flame early on. And let me tell you, I couldn’t stop reading!! An amazingly rich world set in Ancient Arabia with elements of Assassin’s Creed, An Ember in the Ashes, Lord of the Rings, and The Wrath and the Dawn. Amazing right?! I should mention though that there’s no Muslim rep in this book and it is not based on Islam whatsoever - Hafsah was very clear about this. The world that she’s imagined is based on the tradition and culture of Ancient Arabia. I loved that the Arabic language was used in the book as well because so many of the words were so familiar and it’s so heartwarming to see that. Also the CHARACTERS!!! ZAFIRA!!! NASIR!!! ALTAIR!!! KIFAH!!! BENYAMIN!!! YASMINE!!! DEEN!!! THE SILVER WITCH!!! AHHHH!! I loved Zafira’s loyalty and fierceness when facing any challenge. She felt so relatable to me because she’d do anything for her family and community to feed them and be there for them. Her loyalty and fearlessness is something I admire so deeply. Nasir is such a softhearted cinnamon roll no matter how hard he tries to come off as tough. He’s been betrayed by so many people in his life that it makes sense that he is the way he is but you also want to reach through the pages and give him a big hug
I was thankful enough to be on Hafsah's street team for this book and lucky enough to get a chance to read this baby before it's release! It took me so long to finish it because I was relishing in it so much trying to savor it! Let me start by saying that as Middle Eastern girl, I was SO excited to have a book that's based on Ancient Arabia with characters and names from one of my native languages, Arabic. We don't have enough rep in YA and certainly not in fantasy so I am over the moon about this book! Thank you Hafsah for writing this. The plot was great. I liked the build up in the beginning and by the time we got to Act III, I was screaming most of the time. The Zumra have my heart and I loved each of them to death, especially my girl Zafira and smol, sad boy Nasir. I loved how you met each character and how their stories wove into each other. Each of the Zumra bought their own flavor to the story which made the 'gang' feeling even better; I LOVE stories that have unlikely characters stick together and force them into a friendship they pretend they don't like haha. The back story of how the curse was there was well done and I loved the plot twists that came with certain characters. I also enjoyed that we had dual POVs. There were some areas in the text where I felt that the pacing was a little off and I would have to take a step back to reread. I also personally didn't like what was done with Deen's character; I felt like his character was a waste. One thing I will note about the Arabic in the text was: because I speak Arabic, it was easier for me to understand any Arabic words used and even though Hafsah would usually immediately give a translation to the foreign word in the next sentence, I can see how that might still be off-putting to those who don't know the language. I would probably recommend a glossary at the end of any future books; I think it would be helpful. As an Arabic speaking person however, I was just -- uGH I loved seeing my language in the text. It just means so much. I super duper enjoyed this book! I can't wait for its release and the hype that I hope shall surround it!! If you haven't already, pre-order to get your hands on this baby! It has such a rich vibe and the writing made was smooth and so pretty. This is a great debut book! Well done, Hafsah!
A woman disguised as a man, an assassin prince, a loveable good ball that never misses an opportunity to crack a joke. Enemies to lovers, slow burn, dark magic, ancient Arabia. If these things interest you, this is the perfect book for you. I was so excited for this book, I was worried my expectations were too high, that my anticipation eclipsed the reality of this book. I have never been more glad to be wrong. Despite my ridiculously high hopes for this book to be the single greatest piece of writing I have ever consumed, We Hunt the Flame manged to exceed my expectations. The life of these characters, the depth of their emotions, it is near unmatched to anything I've read before. This book is an instant favorite, and I can't even wrap my brain around all the reasons I loved it. Hafsah Faizal has already mastered the craft of making you feel the exact emotion she wants to draw from you with her debut, and you won't be disappointed.
When I first heard about this book I did not know what I was in for. This was by far one of the most interesting J Fantasy books I have read but also one of the most confusing books I have read. I am in love with the storyline and the character of Zafira. I always think the story takes a brilliant turn when the main heroine has a strong name. While reading this book I got a sense of similarity with the setting of Shakespearian times where all men were set to act and work and in this setting Zafira had to disguise herself as a man in order to feed her kingdom and get credit for all her achievements??? Plus, the character of Nasir as I was reading sounded very intimidating and gruff but as I read on and hearing about the war and the conflict it brought to Arz then the story picked up and got good. However, due to some vocabulary and scenes midway through the book I would not classify this book as JFiction but YFiction. That is why we give this book 3 stars.
I cannot tell you how excited I am that I get the opportunity and the privilege to write this review for you guys, because this is a huge deal for me. I have been waiting for this book for two years. I have begged everyone under the sun to get me an ARC of this book. Then I was selected to be a part of the street team. Because of that, I was given an eARC by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review, and I shook with anticipation as I opened it and finally got absorbed into the world of Arawiya. It is one of the most wonderful books I have read in two years, and I can’t wait to tell you about it. Let’s get started. The first thing that drew me to this book was the fact that it is an Arab-inspired fantasy. You guys know me, fantasy is my jam, but when I hear ‘Arab inspired’ it takes less than two seconds for me to already be on board. Hafsah does not disappoint. She paints a world together with words that is so easy to get lost in. From the use of Arabic words to the places that they travel, this story bleeds Ancient Arabia. She paints such amazing details, it’s almost jarring to come back to the real world when you’ve been in the pages for so long. Not only that, but she gives you characters that make the journey that much sweeter. I had a lot of crazy thoughts about this book (most of which she was informed of over Instagram DM) (sorry Hafsah), but what I think makes this book that much sweeter is the relationship between Nasir and Zafira. I think the best thing she could have done for these characters is make them mirrors of each other, which she pulled off in such a stunning way. I don’t want to get too into it, but they’re truly two halves of the same coin. I think every single character in the main zumra is incredibly rich and well developed. I loved Altair and Nasir’s reluctant bromance, and Altair is arguably my favourite of the bunch (outside of Nasir because who doesn’t love a grumpy cinnamon roll with grey eyes). His humour and wit is something that I strongly identify with, and I lost track of the amount of times he had me laughing throughout. I know that there’s a lot more to him than banter, but the banter that he had was pure gold. I also really liked the depth that she brought to Benyamin and Kifah. They didn’t have to have a lot to them. They could have just been a warrior and a safin, but she added that extra layer. That extra bit of story to their characters that just made it that much better. I also think that this book has a couple of themes that we really need to discuss, one of the most important ones being the unity that all of the characters display. They are from five different caliphates. They have five different motives, five different end goals in mind, but at the end they’re working together as an entire unit for a common purpose rather than allowing themselves to be divided by petty squabbles and things that aren’t important. I don’t know if she intended it to be an overarching commentary on today’s political climate, but it definitely worked out that way because I think that we’re all different, but it’s time for us to be united and come together as one just as these five people did. Though they’re in a desert, and we’re in our own land. I also really liked that this journey they’re on was part of the driving force behind their character development and their self-discovery.
So, I've been anticipating this book since last year. Of course We Hunt the Flame took a spot on my Most Anticipated of 2019 list, because I was just so excited to read it. Now, let me tell you guys, for all the expectations I had of this book, it did NOT disappoint one bit. The premise of this book is very compelling and immediately made me fall in love with the concept of this novel. What is this book about? We Hunt the Flame is set in a world that is inspired by ancient Arabia, and follows the huntress Zafira. Zafira is infamous for being the only hunter to brave the Arz forest, but, the people of Arawiya don't know her identity, and they certainly don't know their hunter in fact a woman. Her caliphate is suffering, so Zafira sets out on her most important hunt yet; to discover an ancient artifact to restore magic to her kingdom as was once before. However, the assassin Nasir (also dubbed the Prince of Death) is tasked to assassinate everyone who gets in the way of his father, the leader of Arawiya. When Nasir is told by his father to kill the hunter and retrieve the same artifact, intrigue, danger, (and maybe even romance) ensues! What did I think of We Hunt the Flame? Okay, so I can't say my expectations for this book weren't on the higher side. The premise sounded AMAZING. I used to dislike the enemies to lovers trope, unless done well (which this 100% was!), but I've recently been warming up to it. The setting of this also sounded super intriguing, I tend to love Arabia inspired fantasies and since this is an own voices novel, I trusted it would be done right. The world-building is so intricately done that it's hard to put the book down from the very first chapter. Anyway, guess what? This book was amazing. First of all, the writing in this is GORGEOUS. The book is filled to the brim with beautiful and empowering quotations and poetic metaphors. I also loved the Arabic words sprinkled throughout the text. I really liked the touch these phrases provided, because they really added to the whole experience and setting of the book. (I also used to be a language major so languages just really intrigue me! ) As for the plot, We Hunt the Flame did everything it promised to do! The story was filled with excitement, plot-twists, and well-developed character moments. All of the plot-twists were surprising, and out-of-the blue, which is something I appreciate when it comes to a good book. I really enjoyed the story-telling from a dual POV because it helped the reader to get to know both these characters better. Also wanna quickly say I loved how fast-paced this was, you guys know how I feel about slow books, but this was not at all dragging in any way. I devoured the whole book in (almost) one sitting! And, ugh, THAT ENDING! Cliffhangers are torture but I love them. To come back to the characters, let me just say that both the protagonists (and their relationship) stole my whole heart. Nasir, oh boy, Nasir; this guy has amazing development and is such a multi-layered and complex character. He is one of the morally-grey variety, which a lot of authors gravitate towards nowadays and has become a popular trope in YA lit, but Nasir can in no way
WE HUNT THE FLAME is a sweeping Young Adult fantasy debut from Hafsah Faizal. This book has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. I’ve been watching the progress of Hafsah's story on social media since it was simply a dream, a work in progress, dubbed her “Arabian fantasy”. So you better believe that I was extremely excited (there may have been high pitched squealing) when I was selected to receive an Advanced Reader’s Copy from Macmillan/Fierce Reads. The story is told through alternating POV's between female and male protagonist. Zafira is a hunter who must hide her identity in order to help provide for her people. Nasir is an assassin and a prince who just wants to escape. Along with the two narrators we are blessed with so many more wonderful characters. This unlikely crew is forced to work together and set out on an impossible quest to restore magic to Arawiya. On their quest to save the kingdom, they may very well save themselves. But everyone’s secrets could bring everything crashing down. This was my first read with so much Arabic in the dialogue and narrative, but there was enough context that I got used to it. The last 50-75 pages had me on the edge of my seat, with sweaty palms and looking around my living room say "Omg!..... OMG!!!.... Did you just see that happen?!? Did that really happen?" WE HUNT THE FLAME is imaginative, full of twists and turns, mouthwatering food (WARNING: Do not read on an empty stomach. Seriously, get ready to start cooking!) and breathtaking scenery (you can truly picture yourself there). I need book 2 and a reread, sadly only one of these can happen right now, Haha! Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Hafsah's writing and characters will captivate you from the very beginning. I can't wait to see where this story goes and what she dreams up next! *A free copy was sent in exchange for an honest review, all thought and opinions are my own.
(full review also found on starisallbookedup.wordpress.com) When I get really hyped for a book, I'm always terrified that I've hyped it up so much that I'm about to be really disappointed but this one? THIS DID NOT DISAPPOINT! HOORAY! I think it's safe to say this book has CHANGED MY LIFE. First of all I just want to say that I've never wanted to re-read a book immediately after finishing it so THERE'S THAT. Have you ever been so excited about a book that you don't even know where to begin when you talk about how much you loved it? This is going to be one of THOSE reviews (sorry not sorry?) It's an amazing killer quest with magic and mystery and twists and turns! I didn't expect to be shocked throughout the book but I was gasping and freaking out ALL THE DAAMA TIME. It's filled with backstories (I have a thing for really well done backstories that are incorporated into a plot without taking away from the action in the main plot, okay?), emotionsssss, and more emotionssss!!!! I seriously am in love with the character development in this book and I'm a big fan of character based stories so THIS IS MY JAM, OKAY? The story is told in dual POV's: Zafira (the Huntress sent on a quest to restore magic to her land) and Nasir (the Prince of Death who is sent to... you know, kill Zafira). Each of their chapters is unique and it wasn't difficult to tell which character we were following at the time (some books have that problem but this wasn't one of them!). Their voices are unique and their stories are just so beautifully told (HEELLLLPPPP)! On top of having two amazing leads (*sings* ENEMIES TO LOVERSSSSS) we also have zumra (squad) goals with Altair (fan favorite for obvious reasons), Kifah (I can't wait to see more about her because she's so awesome and fun!), and Benyamin (honestly he was one of my favorites, but I'm also saying that about everyone so????)! On top of that, there's a mysterious silver witch, the Sultan (ugh, he makes me MAAADDD--WHAT AN EVIL MAN), and Deen and Yasmine (I'm reeaaaallllly excited for what's in store in the future!)! I would recommend this to fans of An Ember in the Ashes , The Gilded Wolves, and The Wrath and the Dawn ! If you like squad goals, assassins, enemies to lovers, perfect sassy comebacks and emotional baggage, this is for you! If you love perfect world building, a diverse set of characters, magic and mystery, and twists that'll leave you screaming pick this up ASAP!