Before going in, I knew this was going to be an emotionally wrecking read. From Hafsah’s eerie messages about what’s to come (specifically in Act III, which broke me, thank you very much) and comments from my friends who’ve finished the book, it was clear that I should’ve read this during a less busy week.
Which is exactly why I read it four days before my three midterms!
All jokes aside, We Hunt the Flame is an incredible book. I’m an avid lover of fantasy novels, but very rarely do I find one with such vivid descriptions of world-building and unbelievable attention to detail! Everything in the novel is well-thought out—the architecture, characters, language, food, traditions, romance, angst, fluff….everything. It’s pretty hard to wrap my head around the fact that this is a debut novel because it was just so fucking good.
In the land of Arawiya, there is a cursed forest known as the Arz, and only Zafira is the known person to make it out of it alive, relatively unscathed. She lives as The Hunter, an infamous character—almost like a legend—in the nation to feed her caliphate with hunt taken close to the Arz. No one knows her identity nor her gender but the people closest to her. When Zafira’s offered the opportunity to go into the Arz to bring back magic to Arawiya and destroy the wretched forest once and for all, she’s quick to say yes.
Meanwhile, the Crown Prince of Arawiya, too, lives a double life. Nasir has no choice but to live as the Prince of Death, assassinating everyone who stands in the way of the crown by the command of his father. Nasir has a lot more blood on his own hands than he bargained for, but he has no room his own beliefs. After all, it’s either risking the Sultan’s brutality or following orders. Nasir’s eventually told to venture into the Arz, collect the same artifact, and kill The Hunter in the process.
There are very few words I could give you that perfectly encapsulate how I felt reading We Hunt the Flame. Time and time again I come across novels that take me to a different world as I turn the pages, but We Hunt the Flame sets itself apart. No other book or series could perfectly illustrate a whole kingdom with five different provinces in less than five hundred pages. It was so easy to immerse myself in Arawiya, and even more so with the specific caliphates.
The characters also stood out to me. Zafira and Nasir come from completely different backgrounds—one in poverty and one in royalty—but they both come together perfectly. They’re incredibly brave, flawed, charismatic, and have both suffered way more than they deserve. The side characters (hello, Altair 😉) are just as alluring and have as much of a background and arc as the main characters, which is something rarely seen in this genre!
I haven’t made it a secret that I’m obsessed with the enemies to lovers trope, but Hafsah was able to put together SO MANY of my favorite ones too: slow-burn romance, high-stakes action, jaw-dropping character development, and found family. These elements blend perfectly to form the best fantasy debut of 2019, for sure.
We Hunt the Flame completely blew me away. This book deserves all the hype it gets (AND MORE), and I’m so thankful that I can play a small part in spreading the word. I am most definitely wrecked after that ending (I sent Hafsah a crying selfie that was not the most flattering one), but it also means that readers get to revisit the universe in the second book with even higher stakes, action, and (hopefully) romance!
* I made a little gifset a month back for the book, but definitely watch my Tumblr for more WHTF themed graphics soon!
This novel releases on May 14, 2019! You definitely don’t want to miss it. Here are the links where you can grab your own copy:
Title: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1)
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Source: ARC via the Author
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
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Rating: 5000/5 (I’m not kidding)