Welcome to my rant on why We Hunt the Flame is so very good and why everyone should read it! This blog will now be a part time Hafsah Faizal fan page (not really, but also really).
The premise of this book is that seventeen-year-old Zafira is the only person who’s willing to enter the deadly enchanted forest known as the Arz. Because of her bravery, she can help to feed her starving people. She becomes known as The Hunter throughout the kingdom of Arawiya and acquires quite a reputation, and she has to work hard to keep people from discovering that she’s a girl. Meanwhile, the Arz grows more out of control every day. Because of the suffering this causes, Zafira agrees to go on a magical quest to find an object that would help stop the Arz. Concurrently, emo Prince Nasir is forced by his corrupt father to follow The Hunter and kill her, taking the object back to the king for potentially nefarious purposes. This is not out of character for the king, as he has made Nasir kill others for much less. Zafira and Nasir meet, sparks fly, and I’ll let you do the math.
Perhaps the book’s biggest strength is its lyrical prose.
I appreciate that every chapter ends on a dramatic note. There are mini cliff-hangers everywhere. Dramatic does not mean overdone! Reading the book feels like Faizal is intricately weaving the entire story with her words, and at the end, the readers have a beautifully arranged tapestry to look upon and admire. The writing feels like poetry to me sometimes. The descriptions of the world and of the people were just made so much more magical by the flow of the writing.
Zafira has such steadfast strength, and Nasir does not. It’s a good dynamic, and they have lots of chemistry.
Zafira’s strength is one of the high points of the novel. She is strong and courageous. She’s also only seventeen, and she still has lots of room to learn, and she recognizes that in some ways. She never thinks of herself as an utterly indomitable weapon, but just a person who is trying her best.
However, Zafira is sure of herself in ways that Nasir is not. He might be a better fighter than her in some areas (maybe), but she has a lot more innate confidence in herself, which gives her an advantage over him, a better outlook of the world. Nasir, in contrast to Zafira, is a sad boy. He’s so sad and mopey and full of himself all the time. I can’t get over it, I love sad boys. Differences like this between them make their relationship so interesting to watch unfold. They have a push and pull, give and take dynamic throughout the story, which creates a lot of romantic chemistry. I definitely like the slow burn aspect of their relationship. I think that they want to be with each other, but they both have a lot of growing up to do, not to mention a kingdom to save, before that can really happen. I hope I don’t take away from the rest of the story by saying that the romantic elements were some of my favorite parts!
Another particular strength of the novel are its supporting characters.
Yasmine and Altair deserve novels of their own after the detail and care that Faizal gives to them. She is so good with small details that create stories of their own. I feel as though I can imagine Arawiya so well that I could visit it with ease. Not that it would be easy to live in it once I get there…
Overall, Faizal’s worldbuilding is forceful.
The worldbuilding is excellent throughout. There are minute details about the kingdom given everywhere, and I felt like I knew a bit about how the kingdom functioned after the book was over. I could imagine other people living in the world, unconnected to the plot.
I like the evil forest trope, done so much better here than in other books. Having such an inhuman villain is a huge strength of the book, and it’s frightening to contemplate who or what might be behind it.
Part of the inspiration for the setting of the book is Ancient Arabia. It’s so refreshing not to have to read another novel that is based on England.
The plotting could have been tighter.
I feel like the plot didn’t come together until the very end. The book was mostly about the quest that Zafira and Nasir embark on, but there’s no stellar explaation about why this happens later.
Now, I don’t place much importance on plot, so it didn’t bother me that much, but it has to be said..
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed nearly everything about this book and I simply cannot wait for the release of the next book in the series, We Free the Stars.
I highly recommend this book.