Books by Muslim Authors, Muslim Shelf Space, YA Books

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal – ARC Review

Thank you to Macmillan Childrens Books for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

This is the sequel to We Hunt the Flame and has become one of my absolute favourite reads!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.

As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

This book and the zumra has been living in my head rent free since I read it. I really enjoyed We Hunt the Flame but this book was absolutely phenomenal. There is no way I can truly explain how much I loved this book and how incredible the characters arcs were. This is Zafira and Nasir’s story and I loved their arcs so much. Especially Nasir who had such incredible growth and development from the hashashin we meet in We Hunt the Flame. But I also adored Altair, he was my favourite in the first book and I loved him even more in this one. I will forever mourn Benyamin who made them the zumra but was not able to see all that they achieved.

Tears aren’t a measure of heart. We grieve in different ways.

The book starts right where we ended in WHTF and while the first book started a little slower to build the world and introduce the characters, this book takes us straight into the action and show us what the characters are doing and how they are dealing with the aftermath of the ending of WHTF. I loved that we see more of the world in this book as we travel to different places as each character continues their journeys. I loved the world building and the glimpses we get of an even wider world yet to be explored and I hope we get to see them one day too!

Zafira is dealing with having the jawarat speak to her and try to manipulate her and also trying to come to terms with the fact that her people no longer need a hunter so who is she if she isn’t the hunter. I loved seeing her battle with this, it felt so real and so relatable, trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be when you aren’t forced to be something for the sake of others. As the eldest daughter, it felt so real that internal struggle she has, can she truly live her life for herself without that guilt weighing her down. I really loved how her story ended and the choices she makes for herself. She also has to deal with the misogyny and sexism and fights against this and I just loved it so much.

One of the most difficult parts of her story was reading about the guilt and tension between her and Yassmine because of the death of Deen and that it was Altair that killed him, who is now Zafira’s friend. I loved their bond and relationship in the first book so it was heartbreaking to read the strain in their relationship in this book but it also felt real, and I loved how they started to work through it but it wasn’t magically fixed and we see that it will require work from both of them. But in this book we also see her build a wonderful friendship with Kifah and I just loved seeing them both work together and be able to turn to each other.

My blade is yours. Until every last star is freed, we are bound.

Nasir’s arc was so incredible to read in this book, I liked him in WHTF but in this book I completely loved him. No one is more surprised by this than I am especially as I am usually not a fan of the broody characters but his growth and development was just SO GOOD. I loved seeing him learn to accept himself and let other people in and that caring isn’t a bad thing. His and Zafira’s scenes were so delicious to read, truly, the sexual tension and the angst was done so perfectly and I just lived for their scenes. Nasir is completely smitten by Zafira and the way he describes her and treats her like the queen she is was just so wonderful to see. Him also learning to use his powers and realising that it isn’t something that is jut evil was also something that I really loved reading.

I loved seeing him and Altair also start to build a better relationship with each other, especially after we find out they are half brothers in WHFT and that Altair has been working to build a better world for them all. There is so much baggage between them and yet you can see how much they truly end up caring for each other.

Do you understand brother? You’ll have me. No matter how thick the night, I will always be there to light your way.

We learn a lot more about Altair in this book too and his past and all the mysterious things he did to get everyone to the Sharr in WHTF. I loved learning about his back story but it was also tragic and I just want all the happiness for him. I am so glad we see more of him especially as he is my favourite with his wit and sarcasm and yet he cares so deeply for everyone even as he feels discarded. Seeing his resentment of Nasir was so heartbreaking to read and I felt truly afraid for him at times.

We also see more of Lana in this book and I loved her so much, she is so young yet has had to grow up so quickly and an incredible healer and I loved seeing her interactions with Zafira and one particular memorable moment between her and Nasir. We are also introduced to a few new characters that I really enjoyed reading about too.

You have your duty as I have mine.

The zumra spend the book trying to save their people from the lion of the night who has made himself king and they go through a lot and have to come to terms with a lot about themselves too. But we also learn a lot about the lion too and how he became who he is now and his life is also so tragic. We see how cycles of abuse hurt everyone and that it has to end to be able to build a better world and heal rather than seeking revenge for the way they were wronged.

We will carve our names upon history, and we, too, shall live forever.

This book ties up Zafira and Nasir’s story really well and I loved both their endings so much, it felt so fitting for them. I would however love to see a spin off with Altair because I just want to see him get some happiness because he suffers so much in this book. Also there is more I want to say but I can’t because spoilers but truly I can see the spin off with him a certain character and I just need it!

This book is phenomenal and I need you all to go buy it and read it. The writing is so rich and vivid and the world is so intricate and the characters are amazing. I just loved this book so much.

6 thoughts on “We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal – ARC Review”

  1. Enjoyed your review! I pre-ordered the book. I was so surprised by the content of WHTF. I recommended it for my book club. It had so much unexpected content. I am not sure what I expected from a niqabi author, but the author has definitely shattered by stereotypes. I love books that expand our notion of what is possible, which is probably why I am enjoying the fantasy genre so much.

    Liked by 1 person

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