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 king. 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 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 king 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.
Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.-Summary from Goodreads
Ya’ll this book is massive. Something I note a lot of in YA is that it seems the first act gets boiled down to the inciting incident. The first act of We Hunt the Flame is big in a way that makes it feel like more of a mature fantasy. I really appreciated that atmosphere being brought to the table. Some will probably say the pacing felt off because of this, and I admit there are places that are easy to set the book down and return, but I think that really enhances the novel more than it takes away. It allows you to cherish the words more, to feel the descriptions and truly ground yourself in Arawiya. It’s that sense when you turn off a really good episode of a television series and you can think on it for awhile and appreciate it. This aspect worked really well for me.
It’s something of note too in the way we perceive storytelling. I can be entranced and compelled by the quiet parts of a novel, just as much as I can be by the fast paced, constantly-engage your readers type stories. This is a very thick fantasy. If that sort of pacing is going to throw you off, this might not be the book for you.
By the time we get to the second act we know the characters. We have ideas of where their relationships stand with their families and friends, we know what their normal world is like and so when they leave it the tension becomes strong as these two groups begin to hurtle towards one another.
Which brings me to the characters. The big two, our POV characters, are Zafira and Nasir. I love that we have pretty detailed knowledge of them before they have their first encounter. This makes the tension and reveal just A++.
If you are into the opponents, rivals, foes-to-lovers trope, I think you will enjoy this book. Their internal struggle with one another is crafted well and I love that the relationship is stretched out. It’s not a slow burn, it drives the speed limit, and lets you enjoy the scenery. Ha. I personally enjoy me some angsty thoughts and this had some beautifully angsty thoughts.
Another thing I appreciate is how much emotion is brought to the male characters. I think through certain lenses showing emotion outwardly in the case of male characters is thought of as weak. It may even be an internalized bias about what we think a man should look like. Showing the range of emotions, sadness, anger, despair, happiness, love, even joy, on a male character is a huge plus for me. This story does it well with Nasir as well as the other male lead, Altair.
And their emotional side does not take away from their shows of power either. They still strike an impressive figure in my mind based on their charisma and own strengths. Even when they are dangerous and therefore “cool” the fact that they may shed tears later doesn’t diminish their coolness.
I really, really adored this story and this world. I’m looking forward to the sequel so much!