Book: We Hunt the Flame
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Year Published: 2019
- Plot: 3/5
- Characters: 4/5
- Writing: 4/5
- Overall: 3/5
“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”
We Hunt the Flame was a book about discovering and owning your own identity against the backdrop of a world inspired by Ancient Arabia. I liked it but I still felt underwhelmed by its…. ‘averageness‘ especially because it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year.
It was set in a fictional country called Arawiya that was divided up into caliphates. It used to have magic but had it no longer. Overall, the world building was good and we were gradually fed bits of information about Arawiya and its history. As someone with a fair bit of knowledge surrounding Arabic and Arab culture, it was lovely to see it incorporated into the book. However, some of the Arabic words in the book were used in a clunky and disconcerting manner.
There were two POV characters: Zafira and Nasir.
“You are the compass in the storm, the guide in the dark. You will always find your way, Zafira bint Iskandar.”
Zafira hunted for the people of her village in the magical yet perilous forest called the Arz, which crept closer and closer to her village- threatening to engulf it- every day. She was the only one who could go into it and come back out alive, with her sanity intact. However, she shrouded her identity in secrecy under the mysterious name ‘The Hunter’ and made sure that no one- except her close family and friends- knew that she was a woman as she feared that no one would value her achievements if they knew her gender. During the novel, she embarks on the quest of a lifetime to restore magic to the world by retrieving an ancient book called the Jawarat on the dangerous island called Sharr. Zafira was an alright character. She wasn’t particularly interesting but she wasn’t annoying either. She had a strong sense of duty towards her people and wanted to use her skills to better the world.
Nasir was the crown prince of Arawiya and a notorious hashashin often called, ‘The Prince of Death‘. His father was horrible to him and in general Nasir was a miserable, mirthless person. He was tasked by his father, the sultan, to go on the quest to find the Jawarat, retrieve it, and kill all the others involved. Torn between the desire to please his father and the need to listen to his conscience he goes to Sharr along with Zafira and a few others but ends up going on a journey of self discovery more than anything else. Honestly, I didn’t like Nasir that much. I just found him to be really bland and monotonous. He did show some growth in character by the end and he stopped allowing other people to define him and his actions and tried to do what was right instead of what he’d been told to do.
I gave this book three stars because it wasn’t the most terrible thing I’ve ever read but it’s very unoriginal. I don’t think it introduces any new or fresh ideas. I’ve seen the ‘evil forest’ theme in Uprooted. I’ve seen the ‘restoring magic with special objects’ trope in Children of Blood and Bone and Queen of Shadows. I’ve seen the ‘woman disguised as a man’ trope in so many different books and movies I won’t even try to list them. We Hunt the Flame felt like a mix of ideas that I’ve already seen and heard just in a different setting with different characters. Also some of the names the characters had were very drab like ‘The Silver Witch’ or ‘The Lion of the Night’ which seemed very uninspired in comparison to all of the interesting names that the other characters had.
In conclusion, I found this book to be alright but still a bit dull. I still want to read the sequel in the hope that the author will introduce some more engaging ideas and themes. Don’t let my review put you off because I know that lots of other people loved it, however, if you’re tired of reading the same tropes again and again I don’t think We Hunt the Flame is for you.
Thank you to Macmillan and Hafsah Faizal for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.