We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal Review

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah FaizalWe Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Sands of Arawiya #1)

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)

Release Date: May 14, 2019

Pages: 480

Available Through The Book Depository: We Hunt The Flame

Summary: 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 king. 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 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 king 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.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: We Hunt The Flame is a YA Fantasy debut that has been highly anticipated and one you don’t want to miss! From the expansive world of Arawiya, intriguing plot, and wonderfully developed cast of characters, Faizal’s debut takes the reader on an epic fantasy adventure!

Told through dual POV, We Hunt The Flame follows Zafira, known as the Hunter, and Nasir, prince of Arawiya who goes by the title of the Prince Of Death (essentially the kingdom’s assassin!).

Zafira hunts for her people disguised as a boy in Demenhur, which is a kingdom cursed with eternal snow. She hunts within the Arz, a forest of encapsulating darkness– while many have become lost within it, she always finds her way back!

Nasir is the ever-loyal assassin for his father (the sultan) and goes across the kingdom getting rid of those who undermine his father’s rule. He believes he will forever be cursed with a life of darkness and because of that, keeps himself isolated from the world.

Their stories become intertwined when their confronted with a mission that takes them to a mysterious island with magic no one has seen for close to a century!

I loved the entire first part of this story–introducing us to the world of Arawiya through both of our main characters in their natural elements: Zafira having hunted a deer in the Arz and Nasir, assassinating a man suspected of treason against the kingdom.

These lines from Zafira & Nasir’s opening chapters will forever be remembered in my mind anytime I think of We Hunt The Flame:

People lived because she killed…People died because he lived…

What I loved about those lines is how much they tell us about them as characters before their stories even begin! Zafira is the kind of person who always puts others before herself. Although she has her own desires & wishes, she never chooses to act on them–only on what she feels will make everyone else around her safe or happy!

Nasir has been raised to kill and is continually put in situations where he wants to show his loyalty to his father. But, he does it even knowing his father will never be proud–with that, he uses that as a shield to isolate himself from the kingdom he will be destined to rule. Luckily, he does have general Altair by his side (though Nasir begs to differ XD).

This is a debut that surprised me in so many ways and had so many elements I loved–not only the main characters, but also the expansive world, magic system, character dynamics, and intriguing plot!

Nasir and Zafira’s mission has been spurred by a mysterious entity who calls herself, The Silver Witch. Their mission promises the return of magic to their world, even if it means braving this mysterious island where the magic is wild and unexpected.

Another element to the world that I loved was that although their world has been free of magic for quite sometime, you can still sense its presence in the kingdom itself and that’s because of Faizal’s writing– it creates such vivid settings, imagery, and delivers a sense of wonder! There wasn’t a single moment where I was ever pulled out of the story! The lush prose delivers a balance to its characters, world, atmosphere, and dialogue in such a great way!

Their both tasked with finding the Jawarat, the mythical book that bring magic back to their land. But, in addition to that–Nasir is given another task to kill anyone who can get in the way (Altair included) and the Hunter!

As the story progresses where Nasir & Zafira finally meet– truths come to light and their forced to stick together if their going to find the book!

There’s also a very present/relevant theme of identity throughout the book that is explored so well between them! Both Nasir & Zafira face truths about their identity and when they are presented with new info that changes what they first believed about themselves! I felt it really showed how much depth there was to them to see the many differing sides to them not just throughout their journey, but also through them as characters–we see their strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerable moments which really surprised me!

There’s also themes of grief and loss explored throughout as well!

As for other characters, I loved the ensemble dynamics explored! Firstly with Zafira in her home village, with her sister Lana, friends Yasmine & Deen! Next it was Nasir & Altair–their dynamic/banter was the best and easily a highlight of the book!

I also find the exploration of past/current love isn’t always explored in YA Fantasy between main characters–but We Hunt The Flame really highlighted that & it was so well developed (Zafira w/ Deen & Nasir w/ Kulsum). I loved how they also symbolized the thread to their previous lives before coming to the island of Sharr.

As Zafira, Nasir, & Altair find themselves working together we also get introduced to a couple of new characters on the island:  Kifah, & Benyamin!! I loved learning more about them and found them to be such wonderfully developed characters + additions (who do get introduced mid-way through WHTF).

Overall the main crew/characters were just too precious & have to be protected at all costs!! I loved them a lot!! (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)❤

Additionally, the way Faizal used dual POV was fantastic–it offered so much to so many different elements of the story from the atmosphere, expansive world, characters, etc. The character-dynamics were also so good, not once did I feel certain characters were forgettable or lacked depth!

When talking about the world, the contrast to the setting of the frozen lands & deserts (Demenhur vs. Sarasin) were so vivid and I could picture both of them perfectly! Even the element of the forest of darkness, The Arz, was something special that really brought the setting to life & made it sparkle.

Now onto what made me rate this a 4–though rating aside, I really loved this book and the ending left on a note where I was in shock, but SO ready to read the sequel! (I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year!!). Those last few chapters–just WOW!!

Honestly, I do think that the pre-release hype had my expectations really high for We Hunt The Flame and overall my personal expectations too. I was so ready for the Assassins Creed elements to shine more throughout the book (though they were really present within Part 1) and it definitely switched gears as the story progressed– I was disappointed, but that’s only because I wanted more–I loved reading the chapters where Nasir traveled throughout the kingdom as an assassin & seeing Zafira brave enough to trek through the Arz as she outran guards!!

I did feel that because the writing is very character-focused, the plot (mainly surrounding the Sharr storyline) felt like it wandered a bit and I was hoping for more of the over-arching plot to be explored for a larger part of those chapters instead of being left to the last chunk of chapters.

Also, for me personally, I felt Nasir & Zafira’s defining characteristics (being the Assassin/Hunter) got a bit lost as the story progressed (mainly with Nasir) and I was hoping for their personas to be more of a focused part of their character that was present throughout the whole book (Hopefully that makes sense?).

But overall, like I said above there were so many wonderful and fantastic elements to We Hunt The Flame that really left this book as a memorable and favorite read of mine for sure! I can’t wait to see whats next in the sequel!!

We Hunt The Flame is a YA Fantasy debut inspired by ancient Arabia that takes the reader on an immersive, magical adventure! Faizal’s debut is an atmospheric fantasy tale that delivers such a vivid world, fantastic cast of characters, important themes woven throughout, and plenty of action! We Hunt The Flame is debut that will leave you wanting the sequel right away when you turn that final page!

I’m also shouting out a fellow book blogger review 😍💞📚 I recommend checking out:

We Hunt The Flame Review from Lila over at HardcoverHaven121

As an Own-Voices reviewer for Arab rep., she talks about the diverse geography of the Middle East and how accurate the setting of Arawiya was for her when listening to We Hunt The Flame on audio! She also loved how the novel showcased so many different aspects of Arab culture, such as language!

She also loved the rich prose that Faizal crafted within her novel (which I loved too!!). Though it wasn’t a perfect rating for her, I loved how she expanded on the different points in her review and her thoughts on it from the audiobook perspective!

Book Bytes I #13

Book Bytes is a monthly feature I created to share news in the world of YA!

Each month posts can contain anything from new cover/title reveals, book-to-movie news, even the latest book deals!!
I’ve now split up the news into categories, to make it easier to jump to whichever book news you’d like to read about!

If there’s any book news I missed or any you want to discuss, definitely leave a comment!

Adaptation News

1.To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix Trailer

With the Netflix release of the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before film releasing August 17, the first official trailer was revealed on June 21!

2.The Hate U Give Trailer

The Hate U Give film is set to be released October 19, 2018 and the first official trailer was released June 24!

Book Deals

1.The Other Side Of The Sky by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Set to be released in fall of 2020, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner will be teaming up to write The Other Side Of The Sky, with Harper Teen.

The Other Side Of The Sky is pitched as a “genre-bending romance where The 100 meets a Miyazaki-inspired fantasy world, in which the prince of a hi-tech city in the sky falls into a goddess’s ancient land ruled by magicians and prophecy” (Announced June 20).

2. Ink In The Blood by Kim Smejkal

Set to be released in fall of 2019 through HMH, is Kim Smejkal’s debut, Ink In The Blood.

Its pitched as a dark fantasy “about two friends who escape from a religious temple that they believe serves a false god, only to discover the god is quite real and is bent on revenge” (Announced June 20).

More Book Deals From June 18

3.The Last Witchdoctor by Rena Barron

Set to be released fall 2019 through Voyager UK & Harper Teen, The Last Witchdoctor is Rena Barron’s fantasy debut, with a 3-book deal.

With the story set in a West African-Inspired kingdom, it follows “a girl who is descended from a long line of powerful witchdoctors, yet fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors, and can’t cast the simplest curse. When her mother performs a ritual to conjure a better daughter, one who can wake a great and terrible Demon King, she must find a way to stop them from destroying the world” (Announced June 26).

4.The Summer I Learned Chinese by Lindsay Wong

Set to be released in summer 2020 through Simon Pulse, Wong’s YA Contemporary The Summer I Learned Chinese, “tells the story of a Chinese-American teen who takes a trip to Beijing to reconnect with her roots and find herself, after being dumped by her boyfriend and rejected from every college she applied to” (Announced June 26).

More Book Deals From June 25

Cover Reveals + Title Reveals

1.Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

As of June 1, Penguin Teen revealed the cover to Astrid Scholte’s 2019 debut standalone fantasy novel, Four Dead Queens.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte“Keralie Corrington is a talented pickpocket in the kingdom of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quadrant. For Quadara is a nation divided into four regions, each strictly separated from the other. Toria, the intellectual quadrant values education and ambition. Ludia, the pleasure quadrant values celebration and passion. Archia, the agricultural quadrant, values simplicity and nature. Eonia, the futurist quadrant values technology, stoicism and harmonious community. Four queens, one from each quadrant, rule as one.

When on Mackiel’s orders Keralie steals a particularly valuable item from a messenger, what seems like a routine theft goes horribly wrong. Keralie discovers she’s intercepted instructions to murder the queens. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit–valuable information that she can barter with–Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the messenger she stole from, to complete his delivery and uncover the would-be murderer. But with Keralie and Varin each keeping secrets–and the lives of the queens hanging in the balance–everything is at stake, and no one can be trusted.”

2.#RivetedRevealsWeek

As of June 4, Riveted Lit shared a post featuring cover reveals for their Spring 2019 YA Releases!

With covers being revealed from June 4-7!

3.The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

Revealed June 6 via Bustle was the cover for Arsdale’s upcoming Greek-mythology inspired novel, The Cold Is In Her Bones.

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale is set to be released January 22, 2019!

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale“The only life Milla has ever known is the quiet, isolated one on the family farm her strict and superstitious parents forbid her from leaving. Milla’s only saving grace is her brother, Niklas, who is her one and only friend. That is, until Iris, a girl from the village Milla has never been allowed to visit, moves into her elderly neighbor’s home. The two become fast friends, and it is Iris who tells Milla why her parents won’t let her leave: a demon is terrorizing the village, possessing girls one by one with no clear sign who could be next. That is why Iris’s parents sent her away, in an attempt to save her life… but it could be too late.

When the terrified townsfolk capture and imprison Iris with the other possessed girls, it’s up to Milla to rescue her friend and break the curse once and for all. But to do that, she will have to unravel the truth about her past, and quickly, because something in Milla is changing, and she may soon be a demon herself.”

4. Slayer by Kiersten White

Revealed on June 7 via EW, was the cover + excerpt for Kirsten White’s Slayer, which takes “readers back into the beloved world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer…”

Slayer by Kiersten White is set to be released January 8, 2019!

5.You’d Be Mine Erin Hahn

Revealed through Hanh’s twitter June 8, was the cover to her April 2019 Contemporary debut, You’d Be Mine!

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn is set to be released April 19, 2019!

You'd Be Mine by Erin HahnAnnie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

6. Evermore by Sara Holland

The cover (alongside an excerpt) to Sara Holland’s sequel to Everless, titled Evermore was revealed on Bustle, June 13!

Evermore is set to be released December 31, 2018!

7.The Meaning Of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown

Revealed on LGBTReads Blog on June 20, was the cover to Jaye Robin Brown’s upcoming novel, The Meaning Of Birds!

“Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.”

The Meaning Of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown is set to be released April 16, 2019!

8. Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi

Black Enough edited by Ibi ZoboiThrough Barnes & Noble Teen Blog on June 20, the cover to Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America was revealed!

It is an anthology that features “stories by award-winning, bestselling, and emerging African American YA authors on what it’s like to be a black teen in America.”

The cover reveal also featured a Q&A with Ibi about the anthology and her upcoming novels!

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America is set to be released January 8, 2019!

9.Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway

Revealed on June 22 via Paste Magazine, was the new cover for Joanna Hathaway’s Dark Of The West!

Hathaway’s novel follows “a pilot and a princess on opposite sides of an impending conflict” and is set to be released February 5, 2019!

Dark Of The West by Joanna HathawayHe was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Cursein Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.”

10. Epic Reads Winter 2019 Cover Reveals

As of June 25 on the Epic Reads blog, they revealed a number of covers for some upcoming YA Releases set to be on shelves from this December through April 2019!

Some covers include: Angie Thomas’s On The Come Up, Evelyn Skye’s Circle Of Shadows, upcoming books from Kasie West, Mindy McGinnis, Cinda Williams Chima, & many more!

11. The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

The cover to Swati Teerdhala’s debut novel, The Tiger At Midnight was revealed via Bustle on June 25! Alongside the cover was also an excerpt!

The Tiger At Midnight is set to be released April 23, 2019!

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati TeerdhalaEsha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.”

12. We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover to Hafsah Faizal’s debut novel We Hunt The Flame on June 26!

“Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man to kill in the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her village. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating men foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira were exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir showed any of the pity or compassion he felt, his father would dismiss him as weak. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya — but neither of them want to be. Their paths cross when Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can save their cursed world, and Nasir is sent to kill her. But an ancient evil stirs, and the prize may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.”

We Hunt The Flame is set to be released May 19, 2019!

13.Song Of The Dead by Sarah Glen Marsh

The sequel to Marsh’s YA Fantasy, Reign Of The Fallen, had its cover reveal via Bustle on June 27!

Song Of The Dead is set to be released January 29, 2019!

14. A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

On June 28, Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover (& excerpt) to Tahereh Mafi’s upcoming book, A Very Large Expanse Of Sea, which is set to be released October 16, 2018!

“It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.”

Misc. Book News + Publisher News

1.Penguin Teen 2019 YA Preview

On Penguin Teen’s website, as of June 22, a post revealed upcoming 2019 YA releases  that the Penguin Teen team is looking forward to releasing!

Many include debut authors or anticipated releases from already released series/authors!