Book Title: We Hunt the Flame
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Genre/Subgenre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Themes: Self-Acceptance and Sacrifice
The Nitty Gritty: Zafira is the sole hunter who’s been able to enter the Arz, a cursed forest that’s encroaching on her people’s home. Can Zafira find the courage required to restore magic to her people’s land and save them from certain destruction?
Ideal Audience: Adult and Young Adult fantasy fans
Strengths: There’s so much going on in We Hunt the Flame. First, Zafira is dealing with grief and guilt. She’s also been forced to conceal her identity and use her abilities in secret because of sexism. When she’s presented with the opportunity to restore magic to her people’s lands and save them from the cursed Arz she’s going to have to learn to step out of her comfort zone in many ways. Zafira ultimately learns about her limitations, and realizes she needs to accept help and be true to herself. She has a wonderful arc in this novel.
Faizal also introduces a compelling cast of supporting characters. They have their own character arcs and their motives are established. Faizal uses different POV threads to advance the story and give us different perspectives, and this allows us to anticipate some developments.
I never felt like the story lagged. While I wouldn’t describe it as fast-paced either, it builds steadily as it introduces readers to the world, the dynamics at play, and the factors that will ultimately affect Zafira’s quest.
The world-building elements are strong. There were also unexpected developments that kept me on my toes as a reader. Faizal effectively introduces the reader to Zafira and Nasir’s world, weaves in the pertinent information about the Arz and the history of their lands without info-dumping the backstory, and sets the stakes. There are personal stakes for both characters, as well as implications for their people, which adds to the tension. Conspiracies unravel and motives are exposed along the way, which kept me on my toes because there are surprises right to the end. For me, this was a compelling read from start to finish and I look forward to catching up with Zafira and Nasir in book 2.
Hot Take: A kick-ass female protagonist learns to embrace her identity and fight for her people in an enemies-to-smitten storyline with an unexpected hero who’s also coming to terms with his grief and who he is.
Book Score: 5 stars
Cover Score: 5 stars