We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt The Flame is a gripping young adult novel that explores the light and dark in people and forging your own identity. Zafira is the Hunter, a mysterious figure who hunts for food in a magical forest no one else can navigate, but no one would care how she feeds her people if they knew the Hunter was female. Nasir is the Prince of Death, forced to obey his father the sultan and kill on order. Though very different, they both find themselves on a similar mission: to retrieve magic from a dangerous island; Zafira for the people and Nasir for his father. And though Nasir has been ordered to kill the Hunter, they both end up part of an unlikely gang, all untrusting but united in a common goal, and then it turns out they have a bigger enemy than any one of them.

As someone who doesn’t tend to read fantasy (but saw someone raving about this book), We Hunt The Flame was a revelation: a fantasy novel that is carefully woven to dig deep into character and motivation, and without excessive or unnecessary world-building. Moving between Zafira and Nasir’s perspectives, the narrative is fast-paced and balances surprises with emotion. Both of the protagonists are engrossing characters, with Zafira learning that people’s morals and lives aren’t black and white whilst she looks to who she is outside of the ‘Hunter’ legend, and Nasir battling with the fact that emotion and relationships with others might stretch beyond who he’s been told to kill next. The coming together of the whole crew doesn’t feel forced and works well, leaving an intriguing mix of characters for the second part of the duology.

This is a novel that is really centred around its characters and the ragtag band of fighters that they form. It also emphasises the importance of taking control of your own identity and how that might not always be an easy task in relation to the society or rules you live with. At the same time, it is a fun fantasy story with a lot of banter and characters learning to work together.