Solid Fantasy Debut

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People lived because she killed. People died because he lived. If they were trying to draw me to read this book with two sentences, it was certainly successful.

I received this book in an OwlCrate box last year, so when I saw that it was featured here on BookishFirst, I took it as a sign to finally pick it up. I used the audiobook to get through the first few chapters of the first impression, and then continued on until I was completely immersed in the story and itching for the sequel. We Hunt the Flame follows dual perspectives – Zafira, the Hunter, disguises herself as a man and braces the cursed forest of the Arz to provide food for her village, while Nasir, the Prince of Death, assassinates everyone who dares defy his father, the sultan. The two cross paths on a quest by the Silver Witch to recover a sacred book and restore magic to Zafira’s kingdom, and destroy the Arz that creeps up day by day to swallow the city. War is brewing on the horizon, but can these two forces join an unlikely alliance to prevail? I guess you’ll have to read to find out.

This book was so rich in description and character building (at least for the two main leads). Both Zafira and Nasir have troubled pasts, histories that haunt them daily, and prevent them from being their true selves. Struggling to overcome those doubts is a powerful force at play, you know, along with the forces of legitimate magic. I’ll be honest, heavy fantasy isn’t typically my jam but Hafsah Faizal made me care, I’ll give her that. I think the side characters could have been a bit more fleshed out – since I didn’t grow a strong attachment to them, I didn’t feel much emotion when they encountered trouble (without going into spoilers). There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming, and while I thought the action did drag towards the middle, as a large part of this book is travel, the ending left me wishing the sequel was already released so I could jump right in.

I’d say We Hunt the Flame is a solid debut filled with intrigue, magic, and some sprinkles of romance. The reader will be left hoping everything turns out alright for their favorites, and Faizal isn’t afraid to pull a few punches. I’m excited to see how everything plays out when the conclusion to this duology, We Free the Stars, is released in January.