Thursday, June 6, 2019

Audiobook review: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Book Summary
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.

Flo's Review
All the emotions! This book took me through them all -- fear, anticipation, sadness, pity, love, tension, and so much more. I didn't gather my thoughts together before I started typing, so this is just going to be a stream-of-consciousness type review: I apologize in advance.

First of all -- Steve West and Fiona Hardingham, the narrators of this audiobook, can do no wrong. Fiona is fantastic at conveying emotion in her voice. If Zafira felt fierce, Fiona sounded fierce. If Zafira felt hesitant, Fiona sounded hesitant. If Zafira felt proud, Fiona sounded proud. The same for Steve West. He always reads characters with such intense inner turmoil, and I never fail to feel the depth of the pain and conflict at the core of the character he is reading. Steve's Nasir is no different.

Since I just finished the book, I cannot stop thinking about the ending. (Why hello, book hangover. Long time no meet!) There were just so many reveals and connections! I think maybe some more eagle-eyed readers might have picked up on some of them, but I never catch these things. And I'm okay with that, because it means that my mind is always blown -- in a good way.

One of the best things about We Hunt the Flame is the complexity of the characters. There is no one that is the "good" one, or the "evil" one. (Well, I take that back -- there is a Big Bad. But besides that character.) All our main characters have inflicted pain and suffering, but also have endured pain and suffering. The further I read into the book, the more I learned about these characters. And yet, I feel that I am going to learn so much more about them in the next books.

Shoutout to my boy, Altair! I mean, yes, I'm living for the tension between Zafira and Nasir, but we could really all use an Altair in our lives. 

The setting of this book is truly magical. Hafsah gave us such rich descriptions of the the diverse land of Arawiya that I was able to feel completely immersed in it, even as I drove down the highway on the way to and from work.  I generally don't do well with long audiobooks, which for me is anything more than about 8 or 9 hours. But I never wearied of this one, which came in at almost 15 hours long. 

I am truly chomping at the bit for book #2! It is officially one of my most anticipated for when it comes out (please say no later than 2020!) I was intrigued by this story at first because it reminded me of Sabaa Tahir's Ember quartet, but then I was invested as it became its own unique, magical experience. 

Highly recommend! 

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