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Reviewed by:
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer
Faizal, Hafsah We Hunt the Flame. Farrar,
2019 [480p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-374-31154-4 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-374-31156-8 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 9-12

Known as the Hunter and disguised as a man, Zafira feeds her people from the kills she makes in the Arz, the cursed forest steadily encroaching upon all of all Arawiya. Prince Nasir serves as his sultan father's most deadly assassin, brutally ensuring his reign. A mysterious witch tells Zafira she can stop the Arz and return magic to a world that was torn apart by its loss by retrieving a lost book; Nasir's father demands he follow and then kill the Hunter. Their missions bring them to the island of Sharr, the site of the final battle between the Six Sisters of Old and the Lion of the Night that ripped magic away from Arawiya. Nasir and Zafira are far from the only players here, however: Nasir's wisecracking general, Zafira's childhood friend, an immortal elflike being, and a warrior girl bent on revenge all have a role in this story. Faizal matches a sweeping, ancient Arabian setting of shifting sand dunes, crumbling ruins, and fickle magic with an engrossing tale of political intrigue and human and divine warring powers. That sense of epicness, however, is carefully grounded by her deeply flawed, morally conflicted, and endlessly fascinating characters; as individuals, they are each interesting, but it's the developing dynamic among the group that is truly compelling. The book smartly balances its focus on Zafira and Nasir and their ruminations on darkness (their own or others') with quippy dialogue and breathless action sequences, paying heed to the story's heavier themes while keeping the pace at a clip. Fans of Bardugo's Six of Crows (BCCB 11/15) or Chokshi's The Star-Touched Queen (BCCB 4/16) will be thrilled with the book's impressive world building, stellar cast, and intricate story. KQG



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