We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (a review)
Genre: YA fantasy
Length: 369 pages
The novel follows the story of a continent that once was rich in magic but has since lost it and now is in danger of being devoured by a dark, encroaching forest. Two people, Zafira the huntress and Nasir the crown prince/assassin, set out on an adventure to the cursed island of Sharr to restore magic to the land.
There are quite a few characters and for the most parts my thoughts on them ranged from indifferent to liking them. The two I'm going to focus on, however, I felt were the strongest. Thankfully, they were also the main characters.
Zafira is brave and caring but also carries the trauma of her father's death with her. She hunts to provide for her people but also because her identity and self-worth is deeply rooted in her role as the Hunter.
Nasir, meanwhile, is reminiscent of a Leigh Bardugo character (Faizal has mentioned that Bardugo is an inspiration for her) in that he is a morally grey character. On the surface he's abhorrent, killing innocent people at his father's behest, too cowardly to stand up for him. However, deep down he wants to do the right thing and along the journey across Sharr he evolves from anti-hero to actual hero.
This novel is told from the third person perspectives of Zafira and Nasir. The epilogue is told from the third person perspectives of Zafira's best friend Yasmine and the general (and Nasir's companion) Altair.
The plot took quite a while to get started. The journey to Sharr did not begin until approximately a fourth of the way through the novel. While some of the first fourth was spent developing the important characters, a good chunk of it felt unnecessary and difficult to slog through. Once you get to Sharr the pacing improves drastically.
The world of Arawiya (the continent in the novel) is inspired by ancient Arabia. From language to weaponry to creatures and dress, the world of Arawiya felt very rich and alive.
Overall Thoughts/Final Rating:
While the first quarter of the novel involves some patience on the reader's part, this is still well worth the read. For readers who enjoy morally grey characters, groups of characters working together, and/or rich fantasy worlds, this book is a good choice. I rated it 3.75/5 stars and plan on reading the follow-up which comes out this summer.
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