By David Canfield
June 26, 2018 at 11:00 AM EDT
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

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 world of Arabia is so rarely seen in YA and when cover discussions started for We Hunt the Flame, my dream was to somehow depict the richness of the world,” she says. “Macmillan and Simon Prades did an amazing job giving us a beautiful, domed palace — you’ll have to read the book to learn why it’s so imposing! — a glimpse of the fierce huntress, and the desolation of Sharr drenched in darkness. The stunning typography has my heart though; it’s gilded gold with a nod to Arabic calligraphy — how can it not?!”

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, and is available for pre-order.

Jacket Illustration: Simon Prades; Jacket Design: Elizabeth H. Clark; Lettering: Erin Fitzsimmons & Ray Shappell; Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

This post has been updated to feature the new cover for We Hunt the Flame

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