“We Hunt The Flame” by Hafsah Faizal
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
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 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 sultan 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.
We Hunt The Flame was enjoyable but ultimately didn’t work for me. The idea/story starts out really strong. I just was rather annoyed by the fact that there were so many blink-and-you’ll-miss-it definitions being thrown around. I love world building. I don’t mind a good explanation for setting the stage in a book. Faizal does do a good job (for the most part) of using a word but defining it a breath later. Unfortunately, there was no glossary in the back of the book. I’m a slow reader and read the book over the course of a few weeks. I had no way of taking a quick look to remind myself was certain words meant so I was constantly being jolted out of the story. I was able to muddle my way through but it wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been.
The story is good though. Who doesn’t love a good quest? The beginning and middle drag a bit until the story kicks into high gear. The atmosphere was great. It’s wonderful to see a fantasy story in an Arabian-inspired country. Yes, there were lots of elements that are pretty typical in YA fiction. It’s always great to see authors from different backgrounds but their unique spin on elements we see all the time. It gives new life to drab elements.
I’m not a romance fan but I did appreciate the slow burn. They go from enemies to lovers. I’m never a fan of the super mushy stuff.
While the story ultimately didn’t work out for me, I’ll definitely keep it on my list of YA fantasies to recommend.