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.
I’ve been excited for this book for awhile. A Hunter who’s secretly a huntress, a Prince of Death, and a cursed forest. And that’s only the basics, but those were enough to make me instantly intrigued. I’m not sure why I waiting so long to get into this one, but I finally decided to give it a try. So many people have been loving on it and I was interested to see what I would think. Trigger warnings: grief, emotional and physical abuse
So, all the online hype and all the love this book gets? Yeah, it deserves every drop. This book is so easy to fall into and so easy to be immersed in. I’m so, so happy I finally read it!
I think I want to gush about the writing first. Because, dang, is Faizal a completely gorgeous writer. She captures the essence of this book well, she commands her characters with grace, and she makes the setting come alive. Plus, there were multiple scenes that just made me melt with how incredibly well written they were. They’re beautiful. And just know that that is putting it lightly, though those are the words that fit right here.
This book is very much character driven. I wasn’t expecting to love certain characters and I wasn’t expecting to love characters as much as I do. Nasir, a man who’s compassion is buried deep and who has blood stained hands. He holds so much pain, but there’s also something about him that I couldn’t help falling in love with. Zafira, oh how I love her. She’s trying to feel comfortable and at home in her own skin after wearing a fake one for so long. She’s trying to come into herself in the most dangerous place in this world. She’s wonderful and I love her. Kifah was fierce and loyal and had an underlying sweetness. Altair was hilarious. I loved how he seemed so serious, but at the same time had this air of recklessness to him. He’s a general, but he’ll also tell jokes in the heat of battle. Benyamin was so cat like that I’m saying this book had a cat in even if it didn’t have an animal cat. So of course I loved him haha.
The plot surprised me. At times it felt kind of straight forward and at other times I felt like it was this wild, unexpected thing. I think I would have liked more mystery and for some things to be dug into a bit deeper, but I honestly can’t complain much since it’s written so well that I didn’t really care. It’s about bringing magic back to a land ravaged by a cursed forest. It’s about venturing to an island soaked in darkness, with danger lurking everywhere. It’s about hunting down a lost book and it’s about the hidden dangers on the journey.
I also want to mention that this author managed to pull off the same plot twist twice. And it was extremely effective both times. I’m kind of still screaming over the second one. Because wow, seriously wow.
The world, wow, was it incredible. It’s vast and it’s expansive and it’s so well written. It’s sand and snow and darkness and secrets and the politics of a kingdom on the brink of war. It’s firey and red and orange and yellow. I can’t wait to explore more of it. But what was in this book was so, so amazing to discover. It’s full of darkness that needs to be fought and politics twining together.
In short, this book is amazing and you should totally listen to the praise that is thrown at it. I’m so excited to anticipate the sequel. And so excited to read it! I fell so in love with these characters and this world and just this book as a whole. I really is incredible.