Meet Hafsah Faizal, the YA tastemaker who’s about to take the industry by storm with a novel of her own: We Hunt the Flame.
An American Muslim who has appeared on BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and more, Faizal has been an advocate for representation of underserved groups in the young-readers’ space, gaining the attention of many of its most popular authors. Now she’s ready to preview her own story, an epic fantasy set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia.
Here’s the synopsis for We Hunt the Flame: “Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man to kill in the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her village. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating men foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira were exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir showed any of the pity or compassion he felt, his father would dismiss him as weak. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya — but neither of them want to be. Their paths cross when Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can save their cursed world, and Nasir is sent to kill her. But an ancient evil stirs, and the prize may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.”
Faizal spoke to EW about the book, as well as landing on its gorgeous official cover (below). “When we first began discussing cover ideas for We Hunt the Flame, what I wanted most was for the art to say, ‘This is a fantasy about characters who speak a different language, who wear turbans and khaleeji and know the difference between dates, who live and breathe a different culture but have stories to tell just like everyone else,’” she says. “Calligraphy is such an integral form of art in the Middle Eastern world, and it had always been a dream to see that somehow depicted on my cover. I sent my editor a board of ideas and a stylesheet of calligraphy styles I loved, but I was still blown away when I first saw Erin Fitzsimmons’ typography.”
As to its personal importance to Faizal, the cover is deeply significant. “The bold gold paired with the rich blue of the arabesque background is striking, and feels so very Arab, which was more important to me than anything else,” she explains. “I want young Middle Eastern readers to see this on the shelf, to eagerly tap their friend’s shoulder and say, ‘Hey, this looks like something from my part of the world’ — the one you rarely see the beauty of in today’s war-torn world.… We Hunt the Flame is about fighting the darkness —about finding that flickering flame of light, of hope, in the shadows and coaxing it to life. That’s very much how this cover feels, and I cannot wait to put Zafira and Nasir’s story into readers’ hands.”
Faizal has exclusively shared the We Hunt the Flame cover with EW, which you can see below. The book will be published May 14, 2019.