Content/Trigger Warnings: Child trafficking, child slavery, minor section of child abduction, torture, death/loss of a loved one, grief, PTSD/trauma
“People lived because she killed.”
“People died because he lived.”
Please note, that when you read this book there is no glossary in the book and not all the words are defined after they are said. 75% of this book (meaning the first two acts in the book) is with words most readers won’t understand without researching the word or going to the author’s website to look at the author’s glossary.
We Hunt the Flame is a story about two main characters; Zafira, a Hunter who has made a name for themselves and yet has a secret that could change everything, and Nasir, an assassin who has only ever delivered death to the people of the kingdom and suffered the consequences of caring too much and worse for loving someone. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya. War is brewing on the horizon, the Arz keep closing in to consume the kingdom whole with each passing day. Sent on a quest, the hunter and assassin will come together with a group of people to track down a lost artifact that could change everything and restore magic to their world. But, they’re not the only ones searching for this artifact. A dark evil stirs in the shadows waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.
This was definitely an intriguing book, friends! I have a lot of feelings and thoughts to share with all of you with this review. It’s going to be a long one, so grab some snacks and a drink because there’s so much to break down. In the meantime, all the character art for this book can be found on the lovely and talented Arzzz’s Instagram!
I’m probably one of the few people I’ve seen who actually enjoyed this book. There were a lot of elements that made it mystical and of course, this book follows a group of people set out on a quest! I adore character groups and the wide range they offer when a book offers that dynamic. It’s probably one of my favorite things to read about especially in a fantasy book! Speaking of characters, let’s do an introduction! Also, all of these characters are snarky, witty little monsters that don’t really do much, but snipe at each other ever ten minutes and I am here for it!
“Be as victorious as the name I have given you, and bring the desert to its knees.”
🌻 Hunter of her village, hiding the fact she’s female (think Mulan)
🌻 Lost her father to the Arz and wants to avenge his death
🌻 Has a close relationship with her younger sister
🌻 Hasn’t talked to her mother in years
🌻 The only one who can walk through the Arz and return alive, untouched
🌻 Has two incredible, witty best friends, Deen and Yasmine
🌻 Hears the calling of the darkness
🌻 Has the power of a compass/navigator/tracker
🌻 The definition of stubborn and fierce
🌻 Suffers from trauma
🌻 Trust issues
“His mother used to say that a person without hope was a body without a soul.”
🌻 Prince of Death, the sultan’s assassin and crown prince of Arawiya
🌻 Zafira’s love interest
🌻 Takes everything seriously
🌻 Has a desire to rebel
🌻 Lost his mother at a young age by his own hand
🌻 Thinks he’s a monster and unlovable
🌻 The only one who can find Zafira
🌻 Hears the same calling of darkness as Zafira
🌻 Has a tattoo on his arm
🌻 Suffers from PTSD/trauma by the hand of the sultan
🌻 Also has trust issues
“If I could sell my arm to make him breathe again, I would. He did not deserve such a death.”
🌻 The sultan’s general, Altair
🌻 Bromance (on many levels) with Nasir
🌻 Huge flirt
🌻 Insanely witty
🌻 Has contacts, informants, spies everywhere
🌻 Friend of Deen
🌻 Similar personality to Zafira’s Yasmine
🌻 One of my favorite tropes: Enemies to Besties
🌻 Sultan’s favorite
“Safin are immortal, Huntress; we heal quickly and never fear old age.”
🌻 Full of wisdom and history
🌻 The glue to the whole group, Benyamin
🌻 Tattoo on his arm that means ‘truth’
🌻 Has suffered great amounts of loss
🌻 Likes to read books in his spare time
🌻 Speaks in riddles, a lot
🌻 The type of character you’ll end up loving before you know you even love him
🌻 Likes to keep his appearance flashy and sharp
“Kifah Darwish, sworn of the Nine to the great Calipha Ghada bint Jund of Pelusia, south of the realm.”
🌻 Fierce beyond measure
🌻 Most level headed person of the zumra
🌻 Carries around spices from her homeland
🌻 Does the hunting for the group
🌻 Banters with Altair
🌻 Watched her brother die
This is where things get interesting and very long! We Hunt the Flame is a young adult fantasy that follows two main characters and their point of views through this whole entire book. The book is actually broke down into three different acts to help section the book off with the first act setting the scene and giving the reader basic information about our main characters, the build up to the climax and establishing the zumra while still giving us details, and then the third act delivering the climax and height of everything falling apart to set things up for the next book. Each act will be broken down a little, spoiler free a little later in this review.
We Hunt the Flame is told from two point of views. We have sections that are specifically told from the Zafira and then the other sections are told from the perspective of Nasir. While I loved these two point of views, I definitely would have liked little snippets of the other characters just to have a little insight into what was running through their mind at the time especially during certain scenes. To me, it would have made things a little more interesting instead of constantly keeping it limited to Nasir and Zafira.
Okay, seriously though, this was actually an enjoyable fantasy to read. Each character has their own unique personalities, ideals, and what they want to see happen for the future of the entire kingdom, but they all have one thing in common… they want the artifact to set things right with for the people of Arawiya. Each character of this group has seen a lot of pain, suffering, and they’re all watching the kingdom fall into a deep darkness all pushed by the sultan and one mysterious shadow that’s pulling all the puppet strings. With each character in this group, you can’t help falling in love with all the unique personalities, their strengths, and their weaknesses. There are plenty moments between everyone in the group that will pull your heart strings and I’ll admit, there was more than one scene in this book that caught me crying. If I had to pick a favorite or a bias, I would say Benyamin is probably my one character I grew the most attached to throughout this book. While I love each character, individually, Benyamin is a slice of my heart and I want to protect him with my entire being.
However, let me say this, this book has some serious Assassin’s Creed vibes. Even more so when it comes to a lot Nasir’s parts. And it’s not due to him actually being an assassin! There are a lot of moments in this book that will remind anyone who has played the Assassin’s Creed Franchise of specific moments throughout various sections of the franchise. It took me a while to figure out why there were parts of this books that felt familiar and that’s why. It’s been a while since I played the games, but oh, does it remind me so much of that franchise!
As for the trope in this book, we actually get two tropes! A lot of readers are going to be focused on the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope between Nasir and Zafira. Which, I’ll admit openly, it’s really juicy. I wish we had a more moments with them because whenever they’re together, you can feel the electricity shooting between them. The build up between them is absolutely amazing, as well. When we finally get to the scene we’re all dying for, it delivers so well and it won’t disappoint. The only disappointment you’ll find is there’s not enough of it! I want more and I’m hoping the next book will give us a lot more of those intense, heated, steamy moments between Zafira and Nasir. However, our other trope is ‘enemies to besties’! I feel this trope gets overshadowed so much due to the ‘enemies to lovers trope’ in this book. Altair and Nasir don’t have the greatest relationship… in the beginning. In fact, I’m pretty sure Nasir would have shot Altair in the butt with an arrow long ago with how much Altair gets under his skin. Although, as the story blooms and grows, so does the relationship between Nasir and Altair. There are so many moments of bromance in this book and it takes Nasir a long time to realize the dear general actually cares about him to the extent of standing up for him and defending him against Zafira’s spite. These two also banter a lot and it’s absolutely hilarious and precious. If I could have a novella of just Altair and Nasir bantering at one another, I would be content for the rest of my days. With the drop of one giant information bomb, this is definitely a trope that deserves to recognized more. Also, I want to take this moment to appreciate the blooming companion ship between Altair and Kifah. While it’s not set in stone, there does seem to be a deep fondness blooming between the unlikely pair and my hopes is that our general and warrior queen will find an oasis of love between themselves!
“A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.”
Among all the good of this book, this book is far from perfect and I can understand why many readers have disliked this book or even struggled to enjoy this book to the fullest. Something to be conscious about while reading this book is that it truly does follow what a lot of ya fantasy books follow and it does hold many familiar tropes that you might be tired of reading about. It also has a very foreseeable story arc that many readers are aware.
One of the biggest things for me was the lack of a glossary in this book. While I briefly mentioned it before, I want to go into a little more depth with it. For myself, personally, the lack of a glossary was felt really hard while I read this book. I would say that about 75% of this book uses words that don’t get that added definition in the text, that will cause a language barrier for many readers. I had to get the assistance of my spouse to do some translating and they even struggled a bit with translating some of the words because of how some of the sentences were worded and it opened too many possibilities of what that specific word might mean. At the time of starting this book, I wasn’t aware there was a glossary made on the author’s website. Once someone finally told me about the glossary, it became extremely inconvenient to use the glossary. Suddenly I wasn’t just juggling a book, but I was juggling my laptop, my tablet, or even trying to keep in mind what was happening in the book while I searched the glossary on my computer. If the glossary had been put in the book from the beginning, I think more readers would be able to enjoy the language being used in this book and appreciate the way the words were used a lot more. For my experience, it was a constant struggle. The fact that you don’t see words being defined in the text until Act Three in this book, it’s frustrating and puts inconstancy into this book. So everything with the added language fell flat for the majority of the book.
Then you have the matter of pacing. This is not a fast paced book, but it’s not truly slow either. There’s a medium pace of the story build, but in a general sense, this is a steady pace. It wasn’t super slow, but it wasn’t fast either. When you hit Act Two, this is the part where you really how the pace for this book is set. Parts in this section of the book were dragged out for far too long and it’s easy to feel like the story is being dragged slowly or the story is getting muddled in unnecessary details or moments that weren’t truly needed for this book. Yet, even though there were parts dragged for too long or too much detail, the pace is still steady and it’s still easy to read.
Before anything else, there are a lot of hard hitting trigger warnings that can be extremely difficult to read about. Even for myself, there were bits where I regressed a bit and felt myself pull back from. Please make sure you know your limits and take a break from those sections. Know you limits, take care of yourself, I love you! ❤️
🌻 Act One – We meet Zafira and we meet Nasir. We also meet the Silver Witch, see glimpses of the Sultan and his way of ruling, we also meet Altair. We also get introduced to Zafira’s two closest, most trust friends, Deen and Yasmine. As the reader, we get a lot of detail in this first section, all of it to give the reader an understanding of the two main characters before Act Two begins.
🌻 Act Two – A lot happens in this section. This section makes up the bulk of the book. This is where our two main characters end up joining together. We also get introduced to Kifah and Benyamin during an action packed section. However, lots of trauma, tragedy, and a lot of dangerous, action packed moments develop. The reader gets full blown romance build up and all the bromance you could want in this section. Also, a lot of plot twists and turns, drama bombs, secrets, and all kinds of things get dropped for the reader in this section.
🌻 Act Three – This is where everything starts blowing up in chaos! This is the section that will probably leaving you feeling hollow and yelling at your book. Just so you know. This is the climax of the book. We meet the dark evil hiding in the shadows that’s pulling all the strings and I’m not going to lie, those seduction tactics were steamy! The lesson of ‘love being the fiercest power in the world’ is definitely emphasized in this section. The band of misfits really show how their loyalty and love for one another in the first chapters in this section. Once again, lots of drama bombs and secrets get dropped in this section. Also, steamy romance moments happen in this section between Nasir and Zafira. However, things fall to chaos this section and you should really keep a box of tissues near you.
“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”
Overall, for my own reading experience, I think I did enjoy the most of this book. This is book readers will either love or they’ll hate. For myself, I’m the odd one who finds herself somewhere in the middle. There were aspects that I loved and aspects I strongly disliked. In general, everything balanced itself out and I think many readers should give this book a chance. I’m eager to see how book two will unfold and what will happen next. That epilogue has me wanting more from this series and these characters!
🌻 Read for the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club