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Sands of Arawiya #1

We Hunt the Flame

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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 sultan. 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 Zafira and Nasir 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 sultan 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.

472 pages, Hardcover

First published May 14, 2019

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About the author

Hafsah Faizal

9 books7,584 followers
Hafsah Faizal is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of WE HUNT THE FLAME, WE FREE THE STARS and A TEMPEST OF TEA, and the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. A Forbes 30 under 30 honoree, when she’s not writing, she can be found designing, playing Assassin’s Creed, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with a library of books waiting to be devoured.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,671 reviews
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,792 followers
June 6, 2019
full review posted

i cant even begin to explain how much this book means to me (but im going to try and fail with this review) i'm just so happy to see a middle eastern inspired fantasy get so much hype and recognition, I could weep

but we aint here to cry (yet) we’re here to scream until our voice gets hoarse (BC IT WAS SO BLOODY GOOD)

Writing/word building:

the arabian world that Hafsah built felt so vibrant and concrete to me. the descriptions, the imagery, the eloquence of the language used, absolutely brilliant.

you can definitely tell that she took the time to construct the culture and let the reader familiarize themselves with the world through very specific scenes (traveling through the azr, a side character’s wedding, the snow/sand parallel, the palace, etc. etc.)

I loved the different settings we got to visit and the drastic change in scenery and omg the descriptions of the FOOD (!!!!!)
”Surrounding the large platters were smaller ones: oily dolma stuffed with onions and roasted eggplants, round of baked kibbeh garnished with mint, the flattest of manakish laden with tangy zataar and olive oil.”

basically this was me when it came to ‘highlighting the important quotes’


the characters own my heart, they were written in such a deep, realistic, and complex way.

they all have motivations and fears that are respective to their situation. their backstories are realistic and revealed in such a timely manner, sprinkled throughout the book. I became so attached to them all so quickly, I want to cry just thinking about it


also theyre all hilarious, witty, little monsters that do nothing but snipe at each other and
"I'm no hashashin, but in my humble observations, it seems you can't take your eyes off her," Altair drawled in Nasir's ear.
"Jealous?" Nasir asked...
"I would be, if I didn't know you stare at me just as much."

AND THEYRE ALL SO FRAGILE AND PRECIOUS AND EMO. especially nasir, the love of my life, hes so broken 😭😭😭
Good night, he wanted to whisper.
But he was the Prince of Death, Amir al-Maut, as his mother had once called him in the old tongue, and good night always felt like goodbye.”

sister of her heart
- I adored the relationship zafira and yasmine shared, it was so honest and loving and even though we only got to see them interact for a short period of time, the core of their friendship was so strong and sweet
- “Come back, Zafira. No matter what. Victorious of not, come back.”
- and we stan female friendships

- the reason for my death: nasir and altair
- these two!! THESE TWO!!!! !!!THESE TWO!!!!
- you want to know which trope beats ‘enemies to lovers’?
- Excuse me while I lie down
- “I hope you can climb,” Nasir said.
“Do I look like a monkey?” Altair asked.
“That would be a disgrace to the monkey,” Nasir answered.

- i just want my beautiful boys to be happy :( someone give altair a plate of kunafa and a cup of qahwa and get nasir a big warm blanket and hot chocolate



This romance slayed my entire existence. The chemistry between nasir and zafira was electric.

when we reached their scenes I was so engrossed, I lost track of time, my surroundings, and my dignity (bc I was SCREAMING at them to STOP being so stupidly sTUBBORN)


- “If you want me obedient, Prince, kill me and carry my corpse.”
- Our queen really SNAPPED with that iconic line
- i think the most exciting part of their relationship is how EVERYTHING is pitted against them
- nasir is the prince of the opposing land, sent out to kill her and she is the huntress that’s supposed to save her people. they hate each other from the start, they are both stubborn arrogant idiots who keep DENYING their feelings and causing fights for no reason AND YET
- Honestly I’m going to stop talking about them, bc if I start I will never end
- ”He stared back without a word, the gray of his eyes fractured. It she could catch a wish-granting jinn, all three of her wishes would be spent in mending his heart, for not even Umm would know how to treat such sorrow.”

Side characters:

- altair: altair would probably be offended to even be CONSIDERED a side character. he’s ridiculous and haughty and absolutely hilarious and i love how he always has some quick retort ready. hes also a tragic baby and I want to protect him :(
- deen: this soft boy, my optimistic son. he needs to be protected at all costs and deserves a metal for putting up with zafira and his sister tbh
- kifah: a queen amongst us peasants. she ain’t afraid to cut a bish and remains to be the most level headed member of this zumra of misfits
- benyamin: honestly, hes like the rest of us, exhausted. this boy has been through too much to still be speaking in riddles and yet here he stands
- one character that I WISHED we got to see more of was zafira’s sister, Lana. We get to see some of the relationship between the two sisters but it kind of felt shallow compared to the other relationships in the book

- artist


- i felt that the plot was structured relatively well. the beginning took some time to develop and the middle did stretchhhh along but once the action started, the book really picked up
- and MAN was there action
- the twists and turns that came towards the ending were so shocking and exciting and left off at SUCH a great place for the second book to pick up
- i honestly want to weep at the epilogue, I was caused Pain

- i can see the criticism some reviewers have mentioned about how the book felt very similar to most ya fantasy novels. it holds many familiar tropes and follows a foreseeable story arc that most readers are aware of
- but I also find that it stands apart from the others bc of the complexity of the characters and the developed fantasy world. the arab aspects of the book were so REFRESHING to read and I thought it added a lot of extra depth to the story
- so, I think the criticism is fair to point out, but it don’t think it will ruin your reading experience

and,,,,,,,if you care to hear more of my ramblings ft. quotes and badly made memes, i did a reaction thread

5 stars!!

buddy read with lil may


i mean, i can't be sure, but i think this book is going to single-handedly save 2019

just putting it out there
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 5, 2022
I really did not like this book, and none is more stricken by this than me.

Whatever spell We Hunt the Flame tries to cast does not land. My indifference while reading was such a palpable thing that when I turned the last page, all I felt is relief, as if a bitter burden had just fallen away. I don’t know what I’d expected from this experience exactly, but the world certainly hadn’t been kicked out of its orbit.

The bones of the premise are nothing new. We Hunt the Flame does very little to differentiate itself from the dozens of other YA fantasy novels that have appeared recently, except that it shifts the center away from western folklore, but not even that saves this novel from being a high concept, disappointingly executed.

The full promise of We Hunt the Flame is swallowed by an over-reliance on clichés and gratuitous plot machinery. Once the main arc disengages fully from the shadows, it turns out to be fairly standard for a fantasy novel: A long-lost artifact to retrieve. The threat of dark magic hanging over everything like a shawl. Evil sources scheming. Enemies turning reluctant allies. Everyone is, of course, burdened by a tragic backstory.

The bare-boned plot of We Hunt the Flame meanders, listless and lukewarm, towards a conclusion that doesn't pack as much suspense as it could. Each page felt the length of a night and the boredom of it all was so profound it made me want to scratch my eyes out. Zafira’s quest is utterly non-earthshaking, and the novel often shies away from the full impact of the magical stakes, and as a result, some of the grander moments were robbed of the barest scrapings of gravitas. It is a sign, I think, of how addled I was with tedium, that it took me some time to realize that I was supposed to stagger, look bewildered, or react somehow to some of the plot twists and revelations, but all I felt was blank.

Not only does the plot come late, but it also felt like the story was making the deliberate decision not to raise too many questions about the worldbuilding in order to focus, instead, on the character arcs which weren’t even that gripping to begin with. There’s nothing too disagreeable about the writing either, but the pacing and the density of the prose sometimes don’t balance well with the narrative. This was all bad enough but what had lowered my spirit still further is the fact that I picked up this book expecting a story grounded in a stellar Arabian setup, but unfortunately, We Hunt the Flame doesn't linger there long: too much of the world is glossed over, or left naggingly blank. As for the characters of We Hunt the Flame, they are a collection of stereotypes that we oftentimes see in YA books. Most of them are only special to the extent they serve a purpose, and once that purpose is met, they are no longer needed. I would have been more charitable if the novel wielded some wit or clever bits of banter that would serve as a vivid splash on an otherwise dull palette; instead, the exchanges felt forced and utterly tepid.

I really wanted to love this book, but I'm just sorry I wasted my time reading it.
Profile Image for Hafsah Faizal.
Author 9 books7,583 followers
May 19, 2019
UPDATE: if you're in need of a glossary and pronunciation guide, look no further!

The first ever "review" for my book. The story of my heart. The characters who tormented me for four years until their plight reached the written page. I can't wait to share this story of a girl, a prince, a general, elves, and a world worth fighting for.

Thank you to every soul who adds this, reads this, and cherishes this. ♥
Profile Image for Kiki.
193 reviews8,455 followers
February 17, 2020

Let’s talk about expectations.

As a longtime follower of Hafsah Faizal, I was initially excited for the release of We Hunt the Flame. But by the time it was due to release, my long-standing interest in YA had waned. I was resoundingly tired of it. So I went into this with a sort of resignation, which was the same way I approached most YA reads in 2019. Having said that, I made an effort not to let my personal reader fatigue colour my opinion of this book. After all, it’s not up to Hafsah Faizal to reignite my passion for the genre.

I also made the careful choice to listen to this on audiobook, rather than buy a physical copy. The data I’ve gathered suggests that I am more likely to DNF physical copies than audiobooks; if I can clean my bathroom, argue with the TV licensing people, or rub lotion on my nasty ass goat feet while I read, I’m less likely to decide I don’t have time to slog through a story I’m not enjoying. There’s nothing I love more than multitasking, so I listened to this book mostly while I fucked about with the Olympus Mons of laundry piling up on my bedroom floor. And I firmly believe that if I had not opted for the audiobook, this would have been a DNF.

Now that you’re all sufficiently bored with the minutiae of my uneventful life, let’s dig in.

Let’s talk about opposites.

Compelling narratives in literature are all about conflict. Without conflict, you don’t have a story. But the lack of conflict is exactly the problem with We Hunt The Flame.

“Lack of conflict?” you might say. “There’s plenty of conflict! They have to travel across a vast evil desert and fight Stunt Demon #8 and #9 in order to reach the MacGuffin and save the world™!”

That’s all well and good, but what I’m talking about is meaningful conflict, i.e. conflict that resonates with a more general human experience. That is, conflict in relationships. That is, opposites attracting. In Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, we can’t necessarily relate to infiltrating an army base as a fake slave, but we can relate to Laia’s feelings of hopelessness as she crumbles under pressure. Similarly, in We Hunt the Flame, we can’t necessarily relate to being trapped in a magical desert as we hunt for an object that could save the world from annihilation, but we should be able to understand the emotional conflict between Zafira and Nasir—two people from diametrically opposed lifestyles forced to work together for the greater good.

When we first meet Zafira, she is a huntress who braves a magical forest to feed her supposedly starving people (who still somehow manage to afford brightly dyed clothing and a full spread of food for a wedding feast), while Nasir is a prince forced to act as an assassin by his abusive father, the sultan. The problem is that their ideologies quickly converge, and they fuse into the same person: a bitter teenager compelled to grow up too quickly, each with a smart-talking friend and a jaded outlook that doesn’t stop them from earnestly risking their lives for the greater good. The only challenge of ideology between Zafira and Nasir is a brief mention of his vocation, which leads to one of my favourite dialogue exchanges ever:

Zafira: “I don’t go around murdering people on a whim.”
Nasir: “Neither do I. Hashashins don’t hold up the brutality of murder. We are poets of the kill. Working from the shadows.”


This exchange is nothing if not funny, but it doesn’t mean anything because Zafira and Nasir are basically different-gendered versions of the same person. This could allow for some kind of “kindred spirits” connection, but they are clearly earmarked from the beginning for a romance, so there’s no tension or doubt to fuel the reader’s interest. Of course they’re going to fall in love. Of course Zafira’s hatred of the monarchy and Nasir’s lack of understanding of anything beyond himself won’t complicate it. The narrative purposely removes every obstacle standing in the way of these lovers, including any conflicting elements of character, because an easy romance is…well, easy. We can’t have any difficult questions or ideological rifts standing in the way of our obligatory YA smoochfest.

On the subject of the narrative, let’s talk about framing.

Narrative framing is the crucial difference between complexity and simplicity, and Nasir is a perfect example of terrible narrative framing. Nasir’s background wants to be complex and heartbreaking: he is the son of an autocratic sultan, forced to be his father’s right hand blade, cutting down any dissidents who dare threaten the sultan’s power over the caliphates of Arawiya. Poor Nasir! Except I found it impossible to sympathise with him: not only is his narration excessively morose and melodramatic, but it’s soured by some seriously questionable actions on his part. This might be fine if the narrative framed Nasir as a grey character with a dubious morality, but it doesn’t. It frames him as a poor misunderstood boy with love to give but no one to give it to.

An example is Kulsum, a servant with whom Nasir is having an affair at the beginning of the book. Kulsum’s backstory is that, when the sultan discovered her affair with Nasir, he cut out her tongue. Kulsum, not Nasir, is the one who suffered the most from a relationship built on a power imbalance. Later, Kulsum betrays Nasir by spying on him, and his “friend” Altair viciously mocks him for it. This is Nasir’s reaction: “Kulsum was the one who had pulled him out of that endless despair…Nasir knew that finding a person he could love, who could love him, was near impossible. He knew, yet he had been too blinded by mere affection to see clearly. Fabricated affection.”

Oh, poor Nasir! So sad that the girl who was maimed as a direct result of his actions wasn’t willing to throw away her life for the sake of his feelings.

After all of this, Nasir is then rewarded for his ignorance by Zafira falling in love with him without ever ideologically challenging him. Nasir being welcomed into the fold of this found family comes off the back of him throwing people up against walls, lying about the circumstances surrounding Deen’s death to present himself as a martyr to the reader (this sequence accomplished nothing other than to get rid of Deen as a spare part) and calling Kifah (another spare part with absolutely nothing to do with anything) “woman” when he’s angry with her.

But Nasir’s character is also hampered by his passivity. Things happen to him and he reacts to them, and at no point do his actions ever drive the plot. In fact, he could have been backspaced from the book and the story would have remained more or less intact. I suspect the passiveness was borne of a desire not to make Nasir unlikable, and not to risk having to deal with any conflict between him and Zafira, or indeed ask any difficult questions about the nature of dictatorship. This book feels oddly hesitant; it is afraid to humanise its villains, even though dehumanising our enemies is always extremely fucking dangerous, no matter how detestable we may believe them to be. And because it refuses to dig into the politics of its world, we are left with no idea how this system operates and where Nasir really stands within it (or indeed how he benefits from it). There’s a great video here that discusses the structures that dictators utilise to legitimise and maintain their rule, but this book doesn’t even glance at any of them. It just expects us to believe that, after being relentlessly subjugated by a dictator who has put no systems in place to protect his position, the people of Arawiya would not even consider an uprising.

Of course, all of this transpires in the midst of an endless, fucking endless desert, and a trickling plot that is paced in such a way as to lull the reader to sleep, then give them whiplash. On that note, let’s talk about pacing.

Now. In planning this review, I searched around for texts that nail slow pacing as a tool for building tension. But the example I want to use might be…jarring. Just hear me out.

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining (I can already hear the collective inhale. I said hear me out) is a masterclass in using every available tool to make slow pacing work for a story. Yes, it’s told in a different medium, but the screenplay itself works for the same reasons. For the purposes of this critique, I’m going to treat it as an original work and not as an adaptation of a book, mostly because as an allegory the movie deals with very different themes. And yes, I am aware that Stephen King hated the movie, but I’m inclined to believe he still sleeps well on his pile of money.

The Shining (1980) is discussed in a variety of thematic contexts, but my interpretation of it was as a detailed examination of an abusive marriage. It has all the staples: isolation; alcoholism; infantilisation of a wife; a husband jealously competing with his child for the affections of his wife; a husband prioritising his “work” over his family, and that “work” not being work at all, but merely an excuse to inflate his own ego; and a husband declining to cheat only because it will give his wife ammunition to divorce him (in this context, the lady in the bathtub is not a gross ghost but merely a projection of Jack’s indecisiveness. When he realises that cheating will get him into trouble, she suddenly becomes grotesque to him). Jack’s connection with Delbert Grady is notable in that Grady rationalises the murders of his own family as an unavoidable consequence of their “wilful” nature—in this way, he is an abuser shifting the blame to his victims. The film starts with Wendy discussing an incident in which Jack drunkenly injured his own son Danny, which Wendy, as a subjugated wife, then makes excuses for. Danny’s “shining” represents the power of foresight and intuition afforded to children who grow up in abusive households and who are conditioned to recognise the signs of a parent poised to inflict harm.

This is not intended as a broad stroke appraisal of Kubrick’s work; 2001: A Space Odyssey was unbearable for me, and so was his treatment of Shelley Duvall during the filming of The Shining. But it’s undeniable that The Shining uses its slow pacing to masterfully build up tension to the point where it feels like the rattling lid of a boiling pot—if you open it up, it will scald you, but you can hear it click-click-clicking in your periphery as a constant reminder.

Every scene in The Shining, no matter how slow or quiet, serves more than one character or plot related purpose. This multitasking narrative is exactly why the movie works: it keeps its multiple threads taut, and every scene imparts several significant pieces of information that keep the viewer engaged. An example of this is the scene where Jack interviews with the owner of the Overlook hotel. We learn in this scene that the hotel will be unoccupied over the winter; that the previous caretaker killed his family; and that there is something underneath Jack’s calm, ordinary demeanour. The story of the previous caretaker throbs, not only because of what we already know about Jack, but because of his forced mildness, his overblown interest in the hotel, and the way he slumps in his chair as if he already belongs there.

Another example is the hedge maze scene. We see Wendy and Danny enter the hedge maze outside, and Jack staying indoors behind a glass window, separating the family into two camps: Jack in the past, and Wendy with Danny, their family’s future. We see Wendy and Danny struggle to escape from the maze, which we know will be a point of conflict later. We see Jack standing over a small model of the maze, which positions him as a vengeful godlike figure, looming over his wife and child and throwing them into his all-encompassing shadow. He controls the hotel, as he controls them, and the maze they are escaping from is his toxic influence.

We Hunt the Flame is slow, and it feels slow, because it fails to employ the same tools as The Shining: scenes like the trip to the ice cream parlour, Zafira saying goodbye to Yasmine (a terrible waste of a potential f/f romance), Nasir and Altair getting tangled up with the Dandan, Benyamin reeling off the boring story of his past, don’t achieve anything other than what they say on the tin. They hone in on one character, or one small plot point, and moon over it while everything else is dumped at the wayside. This is also the reason why, after so much wandering in the desert, I had forgotten where we were going and what we were looking for, and who the hell the lion of the night was. It’s because these threads are left slack for most of the story, then clumsily yanked on toward the end of the book. The narrative crawls along, stacking one block at a time, and then expects the reader to be excited about something that was briefly touched on once at the very beginning of the book.

Some threads are also completely dropped, namely the Arz and the danger surrounding Sharr. Our characters build these regions up to be inescapable prisons of death, but they traverse them with ease and without the appropriate equipment for survival in harsh climates. The Arz is the most problematic, in that Zafira’s unique and genuinely interesting magical aptitude for direction is built upon the threat of the Arz. However, the Arz is conveniently magically removed before she and Deen are due to cross it to reach Sharr. Why include the Arz at all if it has no bearing whatsoever on the plot?

Continued below:
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,008 reviews1,328 followers
May 19, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“ People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.”

Disclaimer: ARCs provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review!

🌟 I have been waiting patiently for this book since it was in the writing stages and was recommended to me! I mean a fantasy with Arabian Settinng written by a Muslim Author? I couldn’t ask for more!

🌟 Now the book had a solid start, the first two chapters have the above quote, each line is for a chapter. I felt like I am going to love it. I mean, I like when authors have beautiful prose and there is a subtle kind of comparison and similarities in lines.

🌟 I feel like this is going to be a negative review and you can stop here if you will feel offended. I can’t give a book 2 ratings without going into details so here goes nothing.

🌟 I am going to give a very quick summary and tell me if it rings any bells: There is lost magic in this fantasy world. There is Zafira, our protagonist who disguises herself as a guy and embarks on a journey to restore magic. There is a dark king (wearing a necklace) who is ruthless to his son the prince, Nasir. Nasir wants to prove himself to his father and embarks on the same journey.
I was so sure I read this somewhere before and then DING DING: Throne of Glass!!!! I felt like this book did not offer something new, I felt like it is a collection of stories I read before but in an ancient Arabia settings.

🌟 The second thing is the characters which I did not have a connection to, I felt like they had good moments but they sometimes fell flat. I only liked Altair because of his banter but the other characters did not spark much joy!

🌟 Now the writing was the thing that irked me most, the mix between Arabic and English was a big NO from me! I will give some examples: The King name is Ghameq which means Dark, OK I can tolerate that. Then we have the continuous use of the word (Kharra) which by the way should be written as (Khara) for the correct pronunciation, this word literally means shit. The author used it as an equivalent of shit when something bad happens which we don’t use in Arabic. Imagine a bad situation and the characters go like “Feces, Feces, feces, we must run”. That’s how this sounded to me and it was repeated a gazillion time!
I should mention that the whole mix sounded weird, because when there is a quote, that means I have to imagine the characters said that, why is it mixed languages then, are you translating to us what they said or are you quoting them as exact. The two situations did not work for me! I think this will not be a problem for non-Arabic speaker but for someone whose first language is Arabic and is multilingual, I couldn’t but notice this.

🌟 I should mention that the representation itself was not bad, and I really really appreciate how the author kept the religion out of it!

🌟 Summary: I still think WHTF will get a good success and that makes me happy! I was not happy because many things could have been done better specially that the lights are given to a Muslim author which is not a common thing. The book could be enjoyed for those who won’t be so critical as me. But I think a summary won’t sufice here, so read the whole review or the whole book and decide!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.3k followers
January 27, 2021
‘we hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.’

wow. i am pleasantly surprised by this! i think it helped that i didnt have any expectations going in and that i was totally in the mood for some exotic ancient arabian magic. so this is just what i needed!

the main thing carrying this story is definitely the arabic representation. it just gives the story a lush and cultural feel that is much needed in the book world. had you taken that away, would this still be worth 4 stars? maybe. maybe not. the characters are decent, but there is soooo much introspection. if abundant detail and constant thought narration is not your thing, then im not sure this will work for you. but i thought the characters (specifically altair) were interesting enough that it didnt bother me. also, the pacing is quite slow. the action-packed twists and turns dont happen until the very end. so if you dont mind a slow burn, plot-wise, then this might be your thing. but overall, its the magical and cultural feel of the story that makes it worth reading.

i know this wont be everyones cup of tea but i quite enjoyed it. i mean, i dont enjoy the cliffhanger and having to wait a year for the sequel (lol), but this is still an enchanting story.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Kerri.
Author 17 books24k followers
October 31, 2017
i had an opportunity to read this early and i'm pretty jealous of myself :) this book is INCREDIBLE and i'm pretty sure i've found my book husband.

official blurb:

Hafsah Faizal’s voice is not one that simply speaks, but sings across the page. WE HUNT THE FLAME is a spellbinding tale filled with deception, political intrigue, and atmosphere that lives and breathes—I am obsessed with this story.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,194 reviews40.5k followers
May 3, 2022
Oh here we go again! Sorry but not sorry, I didn’t fall in love or fall out love with this book so I’m giving my three full stars and getting out of here!

Another Switzerland book put me in the middle which normally I don’t like grey areas in my life but now I know how Christian Grey feels! (Or not! I’m not sexy sociopath! I’m regular kind of absurd, crazy redhead!) I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it, too. Singing why don’t you just wait me in the middle, losing my mind just a little (I’m actually because I invested some much time for this book and I could effectively use it to read last book of Winter Trilogy to see what will happen Morozkov and Vasilisia, please don’t give me spoilers but my spider senses warm me about upcoming HEA!)

Amazing cover and a great plot made my hands already glued to this book. I was so hopeful after the impressive start but then pace gets slower, my yawns get louder, frustration levels and consuming wine glasses with fewer sips ratios get higher.

Second thing about the book made me cut my points, the unlikeable characters! Zafira is mediocre, a little dull heroine, not my kind of energizing, witty, powerful, good-hearted character. And Nasir is totally my kind of irritating, deserving more punches of mine he can chew type assholish hero!

Interestingly the supporting characters are more enjoyable, connectable. Without Altair, I could even give two stars to this book but he stole my heart with his smartass comments. At some parts of the book, he made me laugh so hard that my husband thought I was choking so he tried Heimlich maneuver on me. As a result, now I’m lying on my back, suffering from herniated disc. (Well, I’m truly sorry but I’m resigned from doing laundry, cleaning and any other heavy house chores which I never do but now as a difference, I have real excuse!) And of course wise, experienced, fascinating philosopher Benyamin is well-rounded, truthful, loyal, respectful character.

And third thing is I love enemies to lovers theme kind of romantic books but when it comes to Zafira and Nasir’s stories, I didn’t find that magical, heart throbbing, exciting, delicious, sexy chemistry. Something was missing at those parts. And of course slow-burn romance is hard genre to write because if the authors make the readers wait too much for a little sparkle and a little gesture that show one of the parties’ infatuation (any gentle act or some stupid action proves one of them is jealous of the other kind of things), they can lose their readers’ interest forever. There is quite balance between boredom and rekindling the attention.

So as a result, it could be so much better book for me if at least the romance or characterization parts work so well, I can even handle the slow pacing.

So I think I’m done with the series and it is time to choose something else from my tbr list which is the highest point of the earth and I’m really worried it could be collapsed any second!!!
Shelved as 'wishlist'
January 9, 2019
Book: I'm a cross-dressing fantasy epic with stolen artifacts and Middle Eastern influences

Me: Cool, that sounds amazing.

Book: Also, there's going to be an enemies to lovers romance where the prince is probably going to try to kill her at some point.

Profile Image for Tomoe Hotaru.
248 reviews850 followers
February 11, 2022
It took three months and a literal quarantine from a literal world plague to (force me to) finish this book. But that aside, I am hereby coining a sub-sub genre of YA Fantasy, namely Your Standard POC Romantasy and this book was the camel that broke my back, my dudes. That's not how the saying goes, idc.

So let me help save you the time and money. If you have read any one of these books, any single one, or anything written by their respective authors:
Candle and the Flame
Girls of Paper and Fire
Flame in the Mist
then you have read all of them, including this beautiful gem of utter despair that is We Hunt the Flame.

And it's not just because of the common fire-theme going on in their titles, though someone please do explain it to me. What is this obsession with fire that all these standard POC YA Fantasy books have? Can you not think of any other theme that sounds remotely cool for a title?

But lack of creativity in choosing a title is the first hint you'll get when it comes to these sort of books. The utter blandness of plot, character, and setting, bound together by the same tone of unremarkable narrative voice, makes for something completely interchangeable. Any of these authors could have written any of these books, and it's as though the only thing that got them published is their appeal to the untapped market.

I'm turning into a broken record. Shoving in exotic foods and drinks, throwing in foreign words and terms, using names and a setting that belongs to another culture does not stand for worldbuilding on its own.
These recent spate of Standard POC YA Romantasy authors don't seem to understand that. When I'm looking for non-Eurocentric settings in Fantasy, I don't just mean the surface level bullsh*t. I'm also looking for non-Eurocentric attitudes, speech patterns, motivations, conflicts, etc. etc. that should be reflected in its society, in the characters' decision-making processes, their priorities, fears, problem-solving. . . all that and more should affect everything, from story progression to character actions, down to every minute detail of their mannerisms and dialogue.

The last thing I'm looking for is another American Millennial Girl sounding off her American Millennial Girl Talking Points. The last thing I'm looking for is your Standard Fantasy Character Template--the standard comic relief, the standard misunderstood bad boy, the standard girl-trapped-in-a-man's-world. That's not to say such character tropes do not exist in the non-Eurocentric world, but that is to say the idea of a "mysterious and misunderstood bad boy" in an Arab-esque world would be veeeery different from the American ideal of your "mysterious and misunderstood bad boy". What is considered "comical" to the American Tween should be vastly different from that of an Arab-analogue society.

This book failed to capture these cultural differences in the very fibre of its world and characters. If it had succeeded, then perhaps the world would have been less bland and cliche than it currently stands.

When it does try to go deeper into its worldbuilding, it becomes contrived. Take for instance the Caliphate of Demenhur, in which our main character lives. There are five caliphates in all of Arawiya, but only Demenhur is grossly discriminative towards women, banning them from any formal employment, etc. which forces our main character to pretend she is a man in order to hunt for her starving people (never mind that they have a bustling market filled with ice cream! If you're a community on the brink of starvation, tertiary luxuries such as ice cream would be the last thing you'll find).

The reason behind this anti-women policy can be summed up by this brilliant As-You-Know-Bob monologue:


In other words, the Six Sisters, who gave Arawiya magic to begin with, were believed to have just up and vanished and took magic from them, causing the slow destruction of their nation. And this is what instigated their distrust and lack of confidence in women (because Six Sisters were bad, all women are bad, get it?)

Forget the leap in logic, this is a clear contrivance besides, as every caliphate, including theirs, acknowledges that the Six Sisters "disappeared" because they were off fighting a war with the so-called "Lion of the Night", who was wreaking havoc upon the world, and anyone with half a brain could've properly deduced that they fucken died, ya morons.

On the other hand, Demenhur never gave any theories of why/how the Six Sisters would've simply disappeared of their own free will, nor were there any evidence to support their claims. Their belief that the sisters deliberately took magic away from everyone made no sense and was a poorly concocted way of having Zafira forced to pretend to be a man for half of the book.

The book tried to explain away the caliphate's misogyny as something that stemmed from the Sisters' (perceived) betrayal of Arawiya. They started hating and distrusting women ever since the Sisters disappeared, taking magic with them.
What it should have done was illustrate how their belief that the Sisters failed/betrayed them is what stemmed from their already existing and deep-rooted misogyny, and they utilised the disappearance of magic as that one trigger the caliphate was looking for to justify upending society and start imposing stringent rules upon women.
This is one of the many examples of poor writing, world-building, and basic structural planning/editing, which contributed to the overall nonsensicality and randomness of the plot.

The sad thing is, there was no reason for having Zafira pretend to be a man in the first place , other than to provide a marginally interesting twitter pitch.
There were moments where the author tries to portray Zafira suffering from some kind of internal turmoil and internalised discomfort (hence making her forced disguise relevant in that it affects her character development) whenever later on--after she had already revealed her true identity to the world--she faces the option of either wearing her cloak (apparently the only thing that disguised her from being a woman) or discarding it in favour of her true, uncovered self.
But these moments of self-doubt were so scattered and random, and so oddly specific that it comes across as little more than an unfounded quirk. Her self-consciousness and discomfort does not come across in any other form or situation, it's nothing but an inconsistent character trait and an--again--contrived one at that.

The author only knows two ways to write a character, and two types of dialogue exchange:

- emotionally conflicted, melodramatic characters (Zafira, Nasir) -vs- witty, quirky, comic-relief characters (Altair, Kifah)

Everyone else lies in a combined spectrum of the above, or are lifeless creatures of cardboard with no characteristic at all, and can only be described using tropic categories, such as "love interest who dies in order to propel Main Female Character forwards in her journey", or "Main Character's Best Friend", or "Absent Parent of Main Character", etc. etc., and . . . . . .

- The "witty" banter type of dialogue exchange, -vs- the "deep" or melodramatic dialogue exchange.

Don't take my word for it, I've come with receipts.




You can't just jump back-and-forth between middle-grade dialogue to attempts of Socratic philosophy . Certainly not if your writing style and character development don't emulate Socratic level observations. It's not even pretentious, it's just plain embarrassing. I get second-hand embarrassment from reading such prose.



The thing is, this character doesn't even earn the right to be this melodramatic. She's a teen, and you can argue all teens are melodramatic, but at least have the decency to be self-aware in your prose that your characters are shitty-ass drama queens instead of taking yourself (and her!) so seriously.

Calling the writing style flavourless would be a generous statement. The only consistent thing about the prose is in how simply terrible it is.

This review has succinctly highlighted what was wrong with the use of foreign terms, but let me go further with some examples to illustrate my problem.

Like, I don't mind if you use non-English terms such as Umm for mother, Sultan for king, etc. -- these are honorifics/titles/what-have-yous that are world-specific and its usage follows an internal consistency.
But 95% of the usage of foreign words in this book is to substitute for existing English words, for non-culture/world specific terms, and without rhyme or reason or internal consistency; sabar instead of patience; daama instead of bloody (even though this is such a Eurocentric curse word); and many more.



In the first example, the character uses an expletive/expression, rimaal, which is translated as "Sands". But in the second, the expression skies is used also as an expression. The problem with this inconsistency speaks for itself. Why use an English translation in some instances, and use Arabic terms in others?


In this instance, I'm fine with jumu'a being used, as it's a specific term that does not have an English counterpart (its closest translation would be "Friday prayers", which would also work, but loses all the religious specificity; such as using the term "house of prayer" instead of "mosque/church").
But sooq?? There is already a term for it, one that everyone is familiar with, one that will not change the essence of your scene, nor make your readers scratch their heads and lose immersion in the story while they google what it means. Ready for it? Market. You're welcome.

When reading a book, we already read it with the frame of mind that everything, including character dialogue, has been translated from its original language. Throwing in foreign terms at random , without some kind of internal consistency of when to use a foreign term and when to use its English counterpart, is not world-building, it is gimmicky .

It is (here comes my broken record replaying itself) a cheap, lazy way of giving the illusion of a world (i.e. by triggering the image of a stereotypical Arabian world), instead of actually describing, like, with descriptive language, the atmosphere, culture, etc. of your might-I-remind-you fictional realm.


This book is hyped up as "diverse" and non-Eurocentric but bloody hell you've got a story about elves who as an aggregate are more enlightened than the average human race HOW IS THIS NOT EUROCENTRIC!? Changing the word elf to safi does not suddenly make this a culturally different story when you're literally using the same beats and tropes as any Eurocentric fantasy novel. Lord help me. It seems like the only Diverse Stories being published and hyped are those that still somehow cater to the Eurocentric safe zone of appeal, while managing to pretend to be diverse for brownie points .

Beyond that, the story meandered, made absolutely zero sense, and tried to dump us with major plot twists in the last 5% of the book, but twists don't do much when your readers don't care about the story or its characters.

We spend 80% of the book roving around a poorly described desert, hoping our female MC will eventually find this magical book because her super-special-ability is that she's literally a human compass and will forever find what she's after.

But did she actively find it? No. Why not? We don't know. All we know is she was snatched, plucked out of thin air by the enemy half-ifrit dude (Candle and The Flame flashbacks, anyone?), and then was rescued . . . and after she was rescued and they're all relaxing by the edge of a forest or something (Whutt? I dunno, the environmental and atmospheric details of this land was poorly done, okay), she suddenly heard voices and then it leads the MC to the magical book she was looking for.

Why this took 80% of the book to happen? We don't know. Did our characters actually have to do anything proactive to find this book? Nope.

I won't even go into how absurd it was that the island was touted as being this all-dangerous, ungodly, beastly thing that would eat you alive, but then it turns out it was . . . just . . . really not. They could defeat ifrit with a bloody blade, the were-hyenas were talked away, the giant rukh didn't do anything but fly overhead for descriptive points, yaa! give me a break (see what I did there?). Tell me again why an entire army couldn't have been sent?

I won't even go into how absurd it was that these Six Sisters, who was the literal source of ALL magic, could not defeat the Main Villain™, but this humdrum cast of characters not only escaped once, but twice, and Main Villain™ didn't just snap his fingers and destroy them into oblivion when he easily could have.

I also had to deduct a star just for the life-sucking brilliance that is Chapter 82 alone, where our main character was forced by virtue of Authorial Hand, into a situation where she was slowly losing her mind, just so that the Main Male Character/Our Brooding Hero can have a make out session with her because kissing her was the only way to save her and how did he even know this would work? Beats me.

I'm out. This book has sucked enough of my soul.
Profile Image for Layla.
332 reviews368 followers
July 12, 2021
~ 3 stars ~

A really solid book. There were of course things that weren't my favorite, but I do think that this was enjoyable for the most part, if nothing else, there is that.

Zafira bint Iskandar a huntress, known as The Hunter, as she keeps her identity a secret due to the prejudices against women in her caliphate, is the only person able to navigate the Arz, the evil forest surrounding the land, and hunt for food for her people, who would otherwise starve due to the climate of that area. But if her identity as a woman is exposed, she fears that she would be targeted or her accomplishments disregarded.

The Kingdom of Arawiya, inspired by ancient Arabia, has fallen to a curse, when the ruling sisters, who I believe are sorceresses of some sort, disappear. Each caliphate has a different curse. One day, after a trip in the Arz, Zafira gets intercepted by the Sultan's assassin's, who claim the Sultan requests a meeting, and they are there to take her. She leads them into the Arz, and runs away.

That day, she is recruited by a witch who claims that she could be able to restore magic to the lands of Arawiya, if she embarks on a journey, to retrieve the Jawarat, which is in the heart of the Sharr. In her journey, she crosses paths with Nasir, who is on that same journey, but with different motives.

Nasir Ghameq, a prince, the son of the Sultan, is a trained Hashashin (assassin) who eliminates his father's enemies, or anyone that would dare rise against his rule and the unjust rules that he has set. He is sent on that same journey to follow the Hunter and then, once the Hunter finds the Jawarat, to kill him, and give that treasure to his father.

But when things start to go off track, Zafira and Nasir, along with Nasir's companion, Altair, and Benyamin and Kifah, two other travelers they come across, end up teaming up.

~ The Plot ~

The story is told from both Zafira and Nasir's POV. It is pretty tropey and predictable in certain areas to be honest. Not much caught me off guard, and at times I felt as if it was following a certain formula, not to mention, it took me a bit of time to push past the beginning. But overall, I thought it was enjoyable once things took off. It was interesting and the story is one who's potential I am interested in.

~ The Worldbuilding ~

It was good! I do wish there was a bit more, but I did think that it did take it's time to build this world. It was especially interesting that it is Arabian, which is not something I have read before. Plus the twist of magic, which I do hope it takes more time in the next book developing that aspect of things.

~ The Writing ~

I liked the style. It is balanced in all aspects in which I consider essential to writing. It didn't overdo it with the flourish, but it also wasn't dull. I have no complains in those terms.

BUT, the Arabic. Oh my God, that aspect killed me. For two reasons.

One, there are no footnotes. I cannot stress this enough, if you are incorporating a language that is not in the one you are writing the story in, add footnotes where you add a translation the first time that word is mentioned. It's not like the majority of the people reading the book are Arabic speakers. While the glossary and pronunciation guide on Faizsal's website was very helpful, if that was what they were going for, and they didn't want to add footnotes, the bare minimum would have been to add that guide in the back of the book. The online version is not accessible to everyone and it's existence in general is not known to everyone who reads the book.

Second, while I talk about how annoying it may be for someone who doesn't speak that language, I do, and even I didn't know some of the words. I am fluent in Arabic, and I don't think this is a matter of dialect difference. At least I don't think so.

Words were used incorrectly. And I don't mean to nitpick, or bash the author, that is never my intent, I'm pretty sure this is own voices, but that is something that hindered my enjoyment.

~ The Characters ~

Not my favorite cast of characters to be honest, and it took me way too long to care, and even by the end, I was still indifferent to a lot of them, but they were solid


She's an okay protagonist. Strong, determined, and most importantly it doesn't stress that she isn't like other girls, which, just the fact that I consider that a positive, really shows you how low the bar was.

I do hope we get more depth from her in the next book and see her opening up a little more to others, because her character does kind of lack.


He emits a lot of angst and is described as good looking. Which makes him the perfect YA love interest. Angst and a perfect face are the only two requirements needed and he checks both off.

Nasir is chained to the commands of his father. But he opposes all in which the Sultan stands for, and is someone that has good intentions and hopes when it comes down to it, that he is unable to fulfil or express. He is presented as rather stoic and doesn't let people in. He is very strategic with the way he carries himself and what he gives away.

I didn't connect with him as much as Zafira, and he felt stereotypical, but I do really want to see development on his part and see if that aspect is dealt with correctly.


Unpopular opinion, but I didn't like him. He was too cocky and I was annoyed at him whenever he spoke. Plus I didn't care about him. The persona he put on was not for me. Comedic reliefs can either be done really well, or they can unfortunately fall short.


Didn't care about him either, but he's not a bad character, I think he is okay. He's supposed to be more or less the mom of the group and the voice of reason and wisdom. He has a purpose.

But he was a side character, that was...a side character. I've always gravitated towards the side characters, but this is an instance where I can say that wasn't really the case.


She has a lot of potential and a lot can be done with her character. I hope she is developed well.

The Sultan

I think I lost all faith in humanity when I realized that one of the villains' last name literally translates to Dark or Darkness. And Nasir, his son, who people call the Prince of Death and is an assassin, also has that same last name, so my disappointment applies there too. It's a bit on the nose, ain't it?


That ending left me really excited to see what her character will bring to the table. All throughout the book we see her as the best friend, but the end has a lot of the potential to elevate her character.

Yasmine's brother

"I hate to say it, I hope I don't sound ridiculous, I don't know who this man is. I mean he could be walking down the street, and I wouldn't know a thing. Sorry to this man." -Keke Palmer

I FORGOT HIS NAME. That's how pathetic his presence was. His entire character was so predictable, and I'm sorry, I do not care.

Update: his name is Deen...

~ The relationships ~

I liked some of the friendships and what it was developing, but to be honest, so much more could have been done with the romance. There wasn't enough build up or bonding. It felt rather shallow and forced for the sake of the enemies to lovers story arc. I do hope we get to see Nasir and Zafira bond more in We Free the Stars. I do think that their dynamic could work out very well once that foundation of their relationship is solidified.

Final Thoughts: There were things I liked, and things I didn't. I was going to give this a higher rating and then I started writing down my thoughts and realized that there was just so much that I didn't realize I disliked while reading the book, but long term, once my thoughts were formed, stuck out. I would recommend only to the right person. I can both see why one would love this, but also hate it. I'm kinda in the middle at the moment.
Profile Image for clem.
520 reviews372 followers
December 10, 2019
“Be as victorious as the name I have given you, and bring the desert to its knees.”

⭐️⭐️ angry stars.

Instagram | rant on youtube


I know, I read this book a week ago and I'm only writing this review just now. I KNOW I SUCK. And now I don't remember 70% of the book because it's that forgettable and it's been a week.

Anyway, do I even need to present We Hunt The Flame? It's been all over booktwitter (and I'm not even on it) and everyone keeps talking about it. It hit the NYT Bestseller list already and the internet is buzzing with everyone's opinions about it. So let me add another opinion.


For those who live under a rock, We Hunt the Flame tells the story of this random Hunter who's apparently the best in all the land (but not when an attractive soft boi is in sight) and who has to retrieve some random book that will bring magic back to her world. A prince is sent to stop her, kill her and bring the book to the king who'll use the book for his own gain. But these two obviously fall in love yada yada, do I need to say more? Yes, it's the plot of Throne of Glass. My thoughts, exactly.


My main point of the review is this: We Hunt The Flame has nothing going for it once you dismiss the Arab rep.

Now, let's delve into the less sympathetic part of this review; the rant.

1. The brooding prince was boring. He was always being existential over nothing. He's so suddenly attracted to the MC only because of the 'she's not like other girls,' trope. EW. Just ew, honestly it's 2019 we're beyond that 'She's All That' crap. Basically, the characters were flat and didn't try to be more than the plastic archetypes than the writer started with. She obviously doesn't know who they are and is just shoving romance down our throat to make sure we don't question their individuality and are too busy shipping them instead.


2. Everyone gets a straight love interest, it wouldn't be a 00s style YA without that. I'm not sure I understand how hard it is to add a non-straight or non-cisgender character. The MC had some great potential but instead, she just 'disguises' herself as a man to have an easier life. I wish we could have seen her morph slowly into the persona she has created and maybe question her gender identity but that's a big no-no in a 00s inspired novel. So everyone's gonna be straight. Whatever bitch.


3. The plot lack of suspense and the tension doesn't build, it feels boring from beginning to end and unimaginative. The quest is a succession of flat events that left me from bored to straight up cold by the end of the book. I was frustrated and couldn't even bother to feign shock at the so-called plot-twists'. The plot is bare because the worldbuilding and magic system isn't developed at all and we're not supposed to ask questions.


In conclusion, We Hunt The Flame is as boring and banal as Wicked Saints was a couple of months ago, and I don't even know if I'm going keep reading new releases labelled under the YA fantasy genre anymore because honestly, they've all been a disappointment this year.
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
427 reviews1,699 followers
November 1, 2019
“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

Zafira is a huntress who disguises herself as a man, also known as the Hunter of Demenhune to help feed her starving village.

Decades ago when magic disappeared a curse fell on each of the caliphates of Arawiya and a dark and dangerous forest known as the Arz is slowly taking over the land.

When a mysterious Silver Witch appears with the opportunity for Zafira to free magic, she knows that it is her lifes calling to save Arawiya from its curse.

Nasir, son of the tyrannical sultan who took over when magic vanished, also has a mission of his own. Travel to the accursed island of Sharr, find the Hunter and use them to retrieve the magic.


What I liked:

I thought the writing was beautiful, the author is really good with descriptive writing and oh my word all the food talked about in this book had my mouth watering!

The feminist themes were great and the emphasis on friendship and sibling bonds were outstanding.

I really loved Altair, I thought he was such a fun character and the ball of sunshine that this book needed.

The UK addition has a glossary at the back with translations of the Arabic words and even a pronunciation guide where you can see exactly how to say the names correctly. I thought that was cool.

What I didn't like:

During the first 100 pages of the book I was very optimistic. I don't usually mind slow pacing especially if we get good world building and development. Majority of this book was very very slow. The plot only picks up (finally) in the last 100 pages.

Reading this felt like I was experiencing Deja Vu. I'm serious. Everything felt so familiar until I realised that the plot was basically a combination of other big YA books. Like: The Hunger Games; Uprooted; Throne of Glass. I am not saying the author copied from these books. It was just too familiar and felt like I was reading something else all over again. ‹-- I'd like to emphasise that this is just one of the contributing factors as to why I didn't enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped.

Yes we get plenty of history about the characters but they still felt one-dimensional and flat. There were these random scenes where the side characters would start sharing their pasts. These scenes really came out of nowhere and didn't flow well. like: ‘oh hey i'm a deadly killer but let me just go ahead and share my past traumas so that we can bond and become besties even though I've only known you for a few days.’

The banter was sometimes great and other times it felt forced and as if it was inserted to make the crew seem more interesting. Zafira and Nasir are both sullen and grumpy types, and then we have these two jokers, who i guess is supposed to lighten up the crew, but their personalities were too similar it started to irk me. They were basically the same person.

The romance was a big no no from me. It had no bases, just a couple of heated looks and bam!! - we suddenly have feelings for one another.

I really wanted to love this book. Especially since I've been following the author for quite some time and have found her to be a genuinly nice person and such an inspiration for the Muslim bookish community. Alas, it was not meant to be.

I know my review seems very negative but I know many friends of mine who really enjoyed this, so please don't let my review discourage you from picking this one up. Remember that my experience will not be yours, and if you're going to read this book I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Buddy read this with Ameerah


Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me this copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Reynita ★ The Night Reader ★.
123 reviews937 followers
August 25, 2019

I dived into this book ecstatically because it sounded so good and intriguing and honestly I thought that I would love this book after reading it. well, the book was indeed good but I have to admit that I didn't love it. I wanted to love the book but I couldn't. I liked this book though and I did not regret spending my free time by reading this book.

The writing style in this book was pretty and I liked it and I also loved that this book made me open dictionary a lot because of the vocabularies that I didn't know because that way I could increase my knowledge about vocabularies! the plot of the book was slow-paced but it did not drag on or boring. I think this is the kind of slow pacing that does not make you feel bored because in that moment you also get to know the characters and all the things that happen are also interesting to know.

The characters were also pretty good. They weren't boring at all especially Altair. He's pretty funny and made me laugh and roll my eyes a few times and I loved Benyamin! he's so wise and his words soothed my heart. I have massive respect for this guy. He's my favorite character in this book. But the main characters, Zafira and Nasir, I don't know what to say about them. Zafira didn't annoy me but she's also not my favorite character. She's just ... fine. On the other hand, Nasir quite annoyed me. Look, I feel sorry for him but most of the time when I read his POV, I felt annoyed. I both understood and didn't understand him. Does that even make sense?

there's romance in this book. To my delight, it was slow burn and enemies to lovers kind of romance. YAY! but to my disappointment, the romance wasn't as good as I thought. It lacked romance spark or intensity or whatever it was that could make me squeal or melt my icy heart. I initially thought that there was a love triangle but thankfully it's not. So if you're like me, that you avoid books that have a love triangle, then don't worry! it may seemed that way, but I don't think it is.

I liked this book but not enough to want to continue reading the sequel. Thank you for reading and liking this review. I appreciate so much and hope you all have an amazing day!


I'm currently reading this book! It sounds good and intriguing. I'm also in the mood to read a fantasy book and I'm ecstatic to start reading it! ☺️

Have you read it? And did like it? Or do you plan to read it?
Profile Image for Lia Carstairs.
408 reviews2,188 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
November 15, 2021
DNF @ 34%

ive now been stuck at the same percent for 4 months, i definitely have given up on this💀 no more torturing myself

maybe ill finish this one day, but not anytime soon


with all the mixed reviews ive seen, im very curious as to how ill find this to be👀

buddy read with may!!
Profile Image for Azraa F.
5 reviews25 followers
July 4, 2019
Nasir Ghameq entering your life:



Profile Image for Victoria Resco.
Author 6 books24.4k followers
February 9, 2021
Enamorada de cada personaje y su evolución, la dinámica del grupo, el rOMANCE, los plot twists, el mundo fantástico.

La continuación de este libro ya tiene reservada una parte de mis ahorros porque su primera parte se quedó con mi corazoncito.

No merece menos.
Profile Image for Camila Ochoa.
111 reviews6,108 followers
July 27, 2021

okay wow. wow. bruh la ESCRITURA en este libro nonono i can’t believe this, es ARTE. ARTE. la prosa fue de lo que más me movió, literalmente marqué millones de cosas por lo poéticas que eran y lo mucho que me llegaban al cora.

la trama es hiper mega interesante, sobre todo porque se da en un lugar que no estoy acostumbrada a leer que es el DESIERTO que si yo te lo digo así vos decís fua arena y desolación qué bajón PERO NO MI AMOR NO. todo lo visual las descripciones etc etc 100 puntos

y los personajes omg don’t even get me started on them. simpaticé MUCHO con todos, los quiero mucho a todos, los protagonistas son un 💯cada uno y el comic relief es ÉPICO y cero gede. tiene uno o dos plot twist sí, pero me parece que lo más fuerte del libro es la trama y el valor de los personajes.

me encantó la dinámica del grupo, no se sintió nunca forzado y parecían tener mucha química COMO LA PAREJITA PRINCIPAL OMG EL SLOWBURN.

lo único, puede que en alguuuuuunas partes (muy muy muy muuuuuuuy pocas y cortas) se haga un toque largo, pero siempre remonta al instante

me muero por leer el segundo, se los SÚPER RECOMIENDO. Enserio

es de mi confianza :)
Profile Image for Aneeqah.
493 reviews124 followers
May 23, 2018
Buckle up, because it's story time.

I first joined the online community as a YA book blogger. I remember absolutely loving the bookish people I met, both via blogs on Twitter, but also feeling isolated. Because there was no one like me in the community.

Until I stumbled onto a little blog called Icey Books, run by Hafsah Faizal.

I watched Hafsah grow her blog into one of the most popular sites, start a kickass design business, and create the most beautiful of author websites. She's always been someone I've admired deeply--she's so young, so talented, and to boot, she's like me. It's not often we see Muslims rising to success, and despite all odds, thriving.

I can remember the exact moment I first heard that Hafsah got a book deal. I had an extra hour before my education class, and my friend and I had snuck into the new engineering building to study for a bit. I had an assignment pulled up and everything, before I briefly checked Twitter. And I can't even describe how excited I was to see her land not just a book deal, but a major six-figure-deal with an incredible Big 5 Publisher. I was quite literally in tears. (I've learned I'm so extra about getting excited for my friends, but whatever).

So imagine my excitement when I somehow finagled my way into getting to read this book.

I have to admit, I came in with sky-high expectations. There was a part of me that was worried this book wouldn't live up to them. That I would not like it despite deeply loving the pitch and the title.

But. W O W. Did We Hunt the Flame ever blow me away.

I think it's impossible to describe everything that I love about this book. But I can sure as hell try.

The characters. It's incredible to me how distinct and well-rounded both Zafira and Nasir are. Both have such wonderfully crafted backstories that so completely inform who they are as people. They're sassy, they're brave, but perhaps most importantly: they're flawed. Both are struggling with their inner demons and I love love love how deep we're pushed into their emotions and their struggles. Their character arcs are so fantastic to witness, because you're really right there with them the entire time. And the secondary characters?! Incredible. There's one character in particular who I hated: I thought they were annoying as heck and expendable. But by the end? I think they might be my absolute favorite. That's some real character growth, y'all.

The romance. UM. Can we just talk about how amazing this romance is?? Absolutely tantalizing. I'm a sucker for a good slow burn romance, and one that's enemies-to-lovers? Sign. Me. The. Hell. Up. The tension between these two characters was so thick, every moment filled with longing and desire and always something holding someone back. Their scenes are an absolute TREAT to read. I hate romances that suddenly spring up and are based on just attraction (*eyes insta-romance wearily*) but this romance was so believable, and built on something more than attraction. And ohhhh man, some of those scenes. *fans self*

The worldbuilding. I have read so many YA fantasy books. So many. After a certain point, the worlds all start to blend together because they have a similar vibe. Not this one. One of my favorite things about this book is that the setting, Sharr specifically, is so distinct and real that it feels like another character altogether. There is so much intrigue, so much darkness, lurking in the mysterious island that I just fell in love. I'm also a sucker for country politics, and getting a few glimpses of that was so exciting. The myths, the stories, the way misogyny is tackled in this book via the worldbuilding and characters was just so well done.

The writing. The prose in this book absolutely took my breath away. There is something so lyrical about the writing, each word so lovingly plucked out and put on the page. I've lost count of the number of times I commented "brb going to go frame this", because seriously, these are the types of words that you want to get tattooed. And can we talk about the whip-smart dialogue?! I think my family got tired of me literally laughing out loud during some of the conversations in this book. (As someone who deeply struggles with dialogue in her own writing, I'm more than a little jealous...). But seriously, the beauty of Hafsah's words had me highlighting so many lines in this book. Just gorgeous.

I could go on forever talking about everything I love about this book, but I'll have to settle for just saying this: run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore. Because you will want to fall head-over-heels in love with this book just as I did. Hafsah Faizal has crafted something magnificent in this book. And you want a piece of it.
Profile Image for Cait Jacobs (Caitsbooks).
303 reviews14.3k followers
January 23, 2021
Check out this review (and more) over on my blog!

Quick Stats:
5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 4.5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: We Hunt the Flame is a stunning debut. This book is absolutely gorgeous, inside and out. You do not want to miss out on this one of a kind read.

“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Torture, Suicide Mention, Child Abuse, Animal Death, War Themes, Murder, Misogyny //

"A life without purpose may be no life, but a life without love is nothing but an existence.”

Release Date: 5/14/2019
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Page Count: 472
We Hunt the Flame takes place in Arawiya, a kingdom divided into five caliphates, inspired by ancient Arabia. Zafira is one of the only people able to venture into the Arz, a magical forest, and come back unaffected. Disguised as The Hunter, she uses this ability to feed her village. But when she is told of a way she might be able to get rid of the Arz forever, she travels to the mysterious island of Sharr. Nasir is an assassin, son of the Sultan and Prince of Death. When his father sends him after The Hunter with orders to find what The Hunter is after then kill him, Nasir does not hesitate. But Sharr is full of ancient magic and forgotten powers, and with old threats rising, their quests, and their lives, are in jeopardy.

“There is a certain beauty in chaos, magnificence in the uncontrollable.”

- Writing & Setting-

Hafsah Faizal’s writing style is absolutely beautiful. Her prose is perfection. There are so many gorgeous lines in this book. But at the same time, there’s also plenty of humor and wit. Seriously, the banter between characters in this book is fantastic. But the writing isn’t the only unique and beautiful aspect of this book-- there’s also the world. There are a lot of Arabian influences in Arawiya that I absolutely loved, plus some unique aspects that stand out. However, it does take some time to get used to the world and understand the politics, history, and magic, but with the help of the map and some nice exposition, it eventually falls into place.

"A monster will always be enslaved to a master.”

- Plot -

Because there is a bit of an adjustment period to learn the world of this book, the beginning can feel slow. I would say it took me around 170 pages to really get immersed in this world and start flying through. That said, once it picks up, this book is perfect. There’s plenty of action, great character moments, and oh my god are there some twists!! I really did not see a lot of it coming, which doesn’t happen to me often.

"Together we will raise dunes from the earth and rain death from the sky. Together, we are capable of anything” (ah, the power of friendship)

- Characters -

I would die for the zumra. The main group of characters are all very well developed, each with their own unique personalities and backstories. It’s rare that a book can get me to cry over a character who wasn’t my absolute favorite (not that this character wasn’t amazing, they just weren’t my number 1 fave), but this book did. That just goes to show how good every single character in this book is.
Nasir and Zafira are our two main protagonists, and I love them both so much. They each have great motivations and character development, and I can’t wait to see where they go in the sequel. I also wanted to mention Altair, because I love him so much. His interactions with Nasir made me laugh so many times in this book. Nasir really is the quiet emo guy, while Altair is sunlight in human form, so you can imagine what that dynamic is like. It’s perfection.

“Darkness is my destiny.” (Nasir sounds like 13 year old me after discovering MCR. I love him.)

- Conclusion -

Pros- Amazing characters, beautiful writing, unique world
Cons- The beginning is slow
Overall- 5/5 stars.
We Hunt the Flame is astounding. This book is captivating, enthralling, and any other positive adjective you can think of. This book blew me away, and I can’t wait for the sequel to kill me (because based on this one’s ending, I know it will).

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More Quotes I Love:
"There was nothing more respectable and dangerous than a woman of confidence.”
"Zafira bit back a snarl. They were both insufferable children. With death counts.”
"'You know nothing of love or loss,’ the Huntress hissed, and Nasir flinched from her gaze, so cold it burned. ‘You’re likely among the privileged who tumble a different woman every night, only to kill her by sunrise.’
Nasir donned a wolfish smile. ‘Fancy yourself a Shahrazad, then?’"

"The darkness was always happy to see her.”
“He would not fear the darkness. He was the darkness.”
“A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.”
Profile Image for Vibur (hiatus).
42 reviews230 followers
June 5, 2021
We Hunt the Flame was the stuff of vapid angst and painfully dull epiphanies and oh-gods-not-this-bullshit-again. 
Or to be straight to the point, it was the stuff of tropes. Not that there's anything wrong in writing tropes. The problem is how they're written. 

First off, I should point out the protagonists are literal cutouts of tropes, like, literal flat, paper-thin, person-shaped cut-outs. And put together, the two of them have all the personality of dead tumbleweed.
The problem was, there wasn't enough specifics and particulars in their characterisations to separate them from the same old, same old.
Oh, I suppose the characters were all different enough from each other to kinda muddle along and keep the plot going-ish, but in the end, none of them were fleshed out so as to feel real. And while Nasir's character was juuust a bit better because of his 'inner conflict', it was, as far as I'm concerned, rather poorly written, seeing as how there was nothing more to it than description after overlong description of him moping in cold-ass, masochistic self-denial of his feelings, god forbid.

And as for the plot, ugh. Small sputters of plot progression are trapped between meaningless pages of plodding through... some... desert. And let me say, what did happen was nothing but more rope for the plot to hang itself, because it was so goddarn tropey, and reading it made my life filter away until I inhaled my last, shuffling off this mortal coil of withered dreams and stale, cliché-littered writings.

Profile Image for Angelica.
805 reviews1,121 followers
October 23, 2020
So like...I forgot I owned this book. To be fair, I only bought the book for shallow reasons. It was 85% for the hype, 12% for the cover, and 3%  for the premise. And to be honest, a lot of hype, and a pretty cover, and a somewhat interesting premise is all this book has going for it.

This is a story that you've read before. You've already met these characters. They are enemies turned lovers who start off on opposite sides and share different ideals that will be discarded/ ignored as they fall in love after spending just a few days/weeks together. You've also seen this plot before. The characters travel through some dangerous terrain to find some magical McGuffin and save the world from evil. Honestly, you probably also know this world despite it deviating from 'traditional' western folklore. Just add in some deserts and keep the vaguely threatening creatures that serve as supposed obstacles but will in no way inconvenience the characters from their quest, and they're pretty similar. Literally, if you take away the Arab inspiration, this is just like any other YA out there.

And yes, if I am saying that this book is nothing new it must mean that I've read many more like it. Trust me, I've read them before. Some of them haven't been bad. Some of them have actually been good. If anything, at this point, I barely expect originality from the YA novels I read, so I try not to pay attention to the obvious similarities. So, why am I being so mean to We Hunt the Flame? Well, because this book bored me, and that is something no book should ever do.

Some people read to amass knowledge. Some to discover new worlds and new perspectives. I read for the pure entertainment of it. And I was not entertained. Halfway through, I kinda just wanted it to end.

I wasn't into the story. I wasn't won over by the characters. I wasn't intrigued by the plot. As I read, nothing was keeping me hooked. Admittedly, if I hadn't gotten this as an audiobook, I would have left it in favor of something else. Thankfully, audiobooks allow me to multitask and I can listen to them at 2X speed.

I keep saying this, but maybe I need a break from YA fantasy. At this point, they're all starting to blend together into one big, multicolored blob of cliches and repetitive storytelling.

And yet, there is nothing glaringly wrong with this novel, per se. It was ok. Just that. Like an unseasoned piece of  boiled chicken. You could eat it. It will provide sustenance. It certainly won't kill you. But you won't necessarily enjoy eating it, and you probably won't go back for seconds.

In the end, I didn't love this book. Obviously. But do I recommend it? Perhaps.

Judging by the reviews, a good number of people really like it. Also, despite my negative review, there is nothing inherently wrong with this novel, except maybe some pacing issues, but I digress. Maybe this is a book for people who haven't been reading YA for the past decade and are just tired of it all. Maybe 14-year-old me would have loved this. Unfortunately, it was 24-year-old me that read it, and she was not impressed.
Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews502 followers
November 7, 2020
October 30, 2020: We Hunt The Flame burns brightly in passion and fierceness to prove, to live, and to save those you love—including oneself—from the dangers seeping in through oppression and tyranny at the hands of a ruler, at the hands of a father, at the hands of a cursed cold choking one's house.

read this review on my blog!

A young woman disguised as a man dips her hands into the icy forest for food and survival, a young man whose loyalties as an assassin lies with the king is on his toes for any command, and a story that brings these two embodiments of sacrifice and cold-heartedness on a land that burns under the sun and inchmeal, melts away the icicles of dread, hate, and distrust to let compassion, friendship, and love flow.

With years of political powerplay acting as a spark to ignite a war and with a curse that's slowing seeping an eternal winter into the kingdom, Zafira —the Hunter—sails on a quest to search for an artifact that can possibly bring back the lost magic to this kingdom, and Nasir —the assassin—is tasked to retract the same but also, kill the Hunter. And so it commences: a journey filled with threats, monsters, and forced companionship.

Acquaintances lost and acquaintances found, the bonds gradually strengthen through distress and faith to form a squad—the zumra . On a land that shines brightly under the glaring sun and darkens under the starry night, emotions rise like the smoke from a scorching bonfire , feelings that can't be phrased but can be seen through the protective stance, the sassy exchanges, the rebellious decisions, and the tip of a blade on one's throat.

Set in ancient Arabia, the worldbuilding transports with ease and the lyrical writing soulfully infuses the story with culture and language. An intense romance simmering like a delicacy you wish to devour but can only wait for, and an equally intense portrayal of how parents, expectations, and responsibilities can hammer someone.

✺ Read this fast-paced fantasy romance for a world craving the lost magic, for twists that surprise with subtlety, for the monsters that lurk, and for beautiful words that perfectly encapsulate everything. ✺

read this review on my blog!

August 29, 2020: I would like to be welcomed to the zumra. This was SO GOOD. Those Arabic words, that world building, these characters I can't stop thinking about, the self-love search, the romance through dual pov, the banter, that ending which makes me need the next book, We Free The Stars, and the beautifully lyrical writing. Full review to come!

August 26, 2020: Starting this again. I'm here for the Arabian world, a huntress I'll stan, an assassin I'll stan, the hate to love, and an intense adventure. Also, I'll pakka finish reading it this time; referring to when I stopped for no reason in july.

August 01, 2020: I tried reading this but I think I need to binge-read this and right now, my reading schedule is just not giving me that kind of time so I'll have to save this for later.

October 11, 2019: I recently received the paperback and can't stop staring at that beauty cover but i think it's high time i open it up and read this story because i'm sure it's gonna be so good.

December 10, 2018:
|| YA Fantasy
|| Female Hunter + Male Assassin
|| World set in Ancient Arabia
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews1,938 followers
June 2, 2019
this book did a complete 180, and instead of falling asleep reading it, I have fallen in love with it

// buddy read with picasso (tag later)
Profile Image for kimberly ☆.
208 reviews3,288 followers
June 8, 2021
this is the first fantasy book i’ve read in a while and i loved it! had to pull out that glossary though bc i was confused asf 😭 anyways, great character arc’s and a nice slow burn to wash it all down! i liked this book a lot! 4/5 stars hopefully i like the second book more! but as of now i will say that NASIR IS MY BABYYYYY and zafira is a badass female protagonist and y’all know how i love my female protagonists!
Profile Image for Isabella.
558 reviews13.8k followers
August 30, 2020
From now until forever I will trust Mariam with my whole HEART BODY AND SOUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This books has it ALL, one of the best enemies to lovers I have ever READ, chosen family, a qUEST, magic, PAIN AND SUFFERING, beautiful writing and characters that make you want to give up your life for them :”)

Profile Image for ❦ jazmin.
512 reviews732 followers
July 5, 2021
“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

This book was an incredible blend of world-building, romance, intrigue and mystery, and YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK NOW. Do you like enemies to lovers? Banter? Plot twists? The character A helps character B when they’re wounded trope? THEN WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ THIS BOOK??

Also thank you to Sea for being this book’s biggest hype woman and convincing me to read it!

⇢The Plot
I have a lot of thoughts about the plot and writing so let’s start. First, it was obvious that a lot of it was setting up for the next novel, because we learned a lot and essentially got introduced to conflict after conflict, and never really saw anything resolved. I didn’t mind this, but it was definitely a difference from the other two book series I’ve read.

Spoilers in this paragraph!
That being said, the plot was SUPER entertaining. There were definitely some weaker parts or things that could have been explained better, but the story was so just endearing and enjoyable despite that. One thing I do want to mention though was that Deen’s death could have been done a lot better. I understand that he had to die to spur on Zafira and obviously his death was a big change for her character, but I think if it had happened later or in a different way it could have been more impactful for the reader!

Side note, I am terrified for Hafsah’s next series (and We Free the Stars) because I have now learned that she loves killing people off. I’m scared.

⇢Zafira and Nasir
Zafira and Nasir are just so cute. AND they serve the slow burn trope so well which is always a win in my book. I can’t wait to see how their relationship progresses, and I’m super excited to see Zafira embody a new version of the Huntress now that the Arz is gone, and see Nasir work past all the abuse he faced. My heart literally breaks every time he repeats the sultan’s abusive words to himself.

“If I told you my name, would you bow?” His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. He lifted his chin when understanding dawned on her face. “Or would you flee?”

Also, their banter and opposing personalities are absolutely hilarious.

“We’re sorry,” the Huntress said.
Nasir lifted his eyebrows as she lowered her bow. He was not sorry.

⇢Other Characters
I need to start off by talking about Altair. Look, I love him, but I swear the man is a pathological liar and he’s not doing anything for my trust issues. Every two seconds it seems like he’s revealing a new detail that he conveniently forgot to mention?? Like what??

Unfortunately Kifah and Benyamin didn’t live up to my expectations quite as much, just because I wanted to see more of them! Side characters (technically they’re main characters too but for the sake of this I’m considering Zafira and Nasir to be the mains) are something I sort of always expect to be well developed in YA fantasy, and good side characters are certainly one of my favourite things about the genre, so I wish we had seen more of them and gotten more of the entire group together. Still, I’m super excited to see all of the other characters in book 2!

. ⋅ ˚̣- : ✧ : – ⭒ ❦ ⭒ – : ✧ : -˚̣⋅ .


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