We Hunt The Flame, Hafsah Faizal

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She was going to bring her father justice, kings and witches be damned. And when she returned, magic in her grasp, she would give a calipha her throne.

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. 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.

* *
2 / 5

When I picked up We Hunt The Flame I wasn’t aware that it was a hotly anticipated YA release. I just thought that the premise and the cover were cool. Whilst I was intrigued by the magic and adored the setting, We Hunt The Flame failed to connect with me emotionally, resulting in me half-heartedly leafing through it.

Darkness is your destiny. You were born for hell. 

We Hunt The Flame has a solid beginning. Zafira bint Iskandar is a woman in a caliphate that dislikes women. Her village is starving and so she ventures into the Arz, the quickly-growing dangerous and mystical forest, to hunt food. She is the only one who can return and is approached by a mysterious woman who wants her to retrieve an artifact that can restore long-lost magic to the land. Meanwhile, Nasir Ghameq is the son of an abusive King. He is sent out to assassinate those who threaten his father. When the King sends Nasir to kill the Hunter and steal the artifact, Nasir goes.

The plot is nothing new. The land is cursed because of something that happened ages ago. An artifact must be retrieved from a creepy and dangerous island. Zafira is an oppressed woman with a difficult home life. Nasir is a brooding, dark, misunderstood prince with a tragic past. What helps this book stand out is the setting, inspired by Arabia. Faizal paints a picture of a different world, trickles in the names of different foods, sprinkles in new languages naturally, and generally threads together a cool Arabia-inspired world where magic lingers.

They’ll tell stories about us, he had said. There was once a boy with a future. Until all he had left was his past. 

Unfortunately, the worldbuilding couldn’t save the book from being utterly boring. Once Zafira sets off on her quest, I completely lost interest. It’s hard to put my finger on why. Part of it might have been the flowery and overdone writing style. It might be that nothing ever felt like it was happening. The way that Zafira flip-flopped between being a strong Hunter who could provide for her people, and a weepy running-away wreck. The unbelievable way in which Zafira forgives the murder of someone she has known her whole life in a few pages.

I just never felt emotionally invested. When big plot twists came up, I blinked and turned the page and kept listlessly reading, unaffected by what had happened. I didn’t care who Nasir’s mother really was. I didn’t care who really killed Zafira’s friend. Meh. Also didn’t dig the romance.

I’m glad I gave We Hunt The Flame a go. It was a shame the book felt so slow and that I went in thinking I was going to get something original, and I just didn’t. On the plus side, some of the lines are super quotable.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of We Hunt The Flame.

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