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.
This book was as beautifully written as the cover was drawn and I fell so deeply into the pages that I read it in one sitting.
Zafira is such a strong character in many ways, the sole reason her’s and other outlying villages survive. She is the only person known to have traveled into the Arz, the mysterious forest that borders the kingdom of Arawiya, and survived. The only problem, everyone but her family and closest friends believe her to be a man. Women are seen as bad omens ever since the six sisters lost all the kingdoms magic. Countless lives ensure on her keeping up with her deceit, but when a white witch appears and asks her to journey to a mysterious island that is meant to house all the magical creatures of old, Zafira may realise that being a woman is her strength and not her weakness. Nasir is the great Hassassin, the Sultan’s only child who he sends to get rid of the people who oppose him. Constantly suffering from an inner battle of wanting to make his father who once loved him proud and his desire to not be a killer. When the Sultan hears that the great Demonhur hunter has been sent to Sharr to bring magic back to Arawiya he sends Nasir and his nemesis the general Altair (my baby!) there with a simple task, let the hunter find the book and then kill them. Neither Zafira nor Nasir are aware of how their fates are entwined, and how they will have to overcome their differences and learn to trust each other ( harder than it sounds) if they are to survive and bring magic back to the land.
The writing in this book was sublime, the authors ability to enrich us with the history of Ariwiya, the wondrous continent she created, while at the same time carrying on with the main plot is something few authors manage, especially debuts. I will say that it is far from fast paced, the author has used this book to give us as much of a backstory as possible, to ensure we are as knowledgeable about the continent as we need to be and I loved this style of writing. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of tense moments, and the story line definitely picks up towards the end of the book, but for the main part she uses the story to enamour us with the characters and magical land she brings to life.
The romance in this book was sooo slow paced, I was almost screaming at the characters at one point. She writes the romance in that way that ensures you know who will end up with who, but be prepared for one hell of a ride, filled with plenty of heartbreak along the way. I’m a sucker for a boy dealing with inner turmoil and Faizal does not let us down on that account. In fact most of her characters are dealing with some sort of trauma from being treated differently as a woman, to hiding some big ass secrets. We see friendships blossom in the unlikeliest of places and you somehow manage to find yourself a little bit in love with all her amazing characters. She writes some fantastically strong females as well so you are definitely in for a treat.
Twists & turns… twists and turns you say! This book had them in spades. There were one or two I saw coming but the others hit me sooo hard. They all added amazing depth to an already trench deep story line and set the story up wonderfully for book two. They are the kind of plot twists that have you flicking back through the pages, wondering how you didn’t see them coming all along (my favourite.) The ending of the book had me clinging to the pages on the edge of my seat. I was unsure how it would end and I was definitely left wanting more, so though I’m annoyed it took me this long to pick this astonishing read, i’m glad that I won’t have to wait as long for the sequel.
This is an easy 5/5 for me. I love delving into other cultures folklore/mythology and Faizal writes a wondrous mythology that had me devouring the pages. Certainly slow paced, but there are enough twist and turns to keep you engrossed and it’s worth reading for some of the character interaction alone. One of my favourite reads of the year and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.