We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)
by Hafsah Faizal

I read this book at the same time as I was reading Djinn City and the two books somewhat informed each other. We Hunt the Flame came off as more emotion and deep character based. But it also came off as awkwardly written on the sentence/word level and in need of better editing. That almost frustrated me too much at the slow start of the book when our Huntress was just hanging around her village and our Prince of Death was just angsting and we didn’t know why he was so cranky at the start.

For instance ““Don’t beg, child. I, too, am sorry,” Umm lulled” I had no trouble with the use (seemingly random sometimes) of Arabic words but I did have trouble with the somewhat awkward use of “lulled” in this sentence for example. And the wrong tense of inscribe “Why had Arawiya’s lethal hashashin succumbed to a needle and inscribe the word “love,” in any form or tense, on his skin?”

The dreaded forest of the Arz also is set up in the beginning as the most important problem for Zafira, but then is left behind when she sets off on her journey and is dealt with in an anti climactic way– almost a false signal to the reader about the true heart of the dark magic in this story. And there was way, way too much repetition of glances and eyes grazing and expressing things.

But despite the vague language and sometimes vague action sequences (there’s a lot of vague fighting of ifrits once they reach the terrible island of Sharr) once the little zumra/posse gets together on Sharr to find the Jawarat, things get a little more interesting. And not just because of the romantic tension between Zafira and Nasir (both deadly and with good reason to have grief and suspicion of each other) but also because of Nasir’s golden and quippy general Altair and snippy Kifah.

The zumra is the whole reason I hung on with this book, despite the issues I stated above. There’s also some really interesting revelations about the darkness/shadows and magic that seem to cling to Nasir and Zafira.

In terms of a non-western romantic fantasy– this is worth reading for the romantic thread both of the relationship and the underlying culture, but only if you can look past the slow start and the clunky language issues. I’m not sure I’d follow the story any further despite the lack of resolution to any of the main story threads at the end.