A Review of "We Hunt The Flame" by Hafsah Faizal
BY: Sara Alsayed / Arab America Contributing Writer
The 2019 Sand of Arawiya duology We Hunt the Flame, written by Hafsah Faizal, is an extraordinary book that captures ancient Arabian nights. The book’s richly detailed world is beautiful in its description and usage of words and allows the readers to delve into a world of assassins, royalty, and mystery.
Hafsah Faizal is an Arab-American author of young adult novels, best known for her New York Times best-selling fantasy novel, We Hunt the Flame. Since she is of Sri Lankan and Arab descent, her description of some scenes within the novel was highly descriptive and accurate. It gave life to each word and captured the sense of each sentence.
In my opinion, her usage of Arabian culture is what makes it stand apart from other young adult fantasy books I have read. It allows the readers to be engrossed in Arabian culture, which is so unlike American culture.
Using Arabic names such as Zafira, which means to succeed. Nasir, which means to help or one who gives victory, Kifah, meaning struggle, etc. All those names give off an ancient Arabian setting and allow the readers to connect to the characters from an ethnic level.
In addition, the character’s attire was unique and so-unlike the American fashion. It had turbans and billowing sirwal, also known as Harem pants, which are baggy, low-crotch pants. They were originally Persian and later on, introduced to the Arab culture. These small yet significant details are what bind the reader to Arabian culture and fashion.
The usage of common Arabic words such as Yalla, Qif, Laa, help the reader imagine themselves within the scene. Hearing men and women shouting and yelling reminds or introduces them to the traditional sooq, which is common in the Middle East.
Also, in the novel, the writer mentioned Hashashin, which translates to Order of the Assassins. These were a group of assassins, who lived in Persia and Syria, and their duty was to eliminate any enemies that could potentially harm or threaten their state.
They used scimitars, which are single-edged swords with curved blades that are normally associated with the Middle East, South Asia, and North African cultures. The mere mention of the word sets the novel on a dark yet alluring path that compels the reader to continue reading.
Many have reviewed this book and described it with immense admiration. For example, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books said: “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. . .Fans of Bardugo’s Six of Crows or Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen will be thrilled with the book’s impressive world-building, stellar cast, and intricate story”.
Ultimately, We Hunt The Flame is a terrific novel with its intricate description of its surroundings and its ability to consume the reader with its passion and darkness. Also, it has an appealing spin on traditional fantasy elements, so if anyone is looking for a mesmerizing novel to read during this time, I would one hundred percent recommend this book.
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