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The Candle and the Flame

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Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, N Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar. But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield. Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.


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Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, N Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar. But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield. Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.

30 review for The Candle and the Flame

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chaima ✨ شيماء

    *vigorously shakes a magic 8 ball* will 3 star ratings ever stop being so awkward? The book is rich when it comes to the fantasy landscape and the magical structure but it's largely devoid of emotional power and the distant, almost detached narrative voice not only keeps the characters at arm's length but also often dampens the experience. The novel also wears its genre tropes on its sleeve and the romance was a bit on the nose. I was most impressed, however, by the subversive thematic elements ( *vigorously shakes a magic 8 ball* will 3 star ratings ever stop being so awkward? The book is rich when it comes to the fantasy landscape and the magical structure but it's largely devoid of emotional power and the distant, almost detached narrative voice not only keeps the characters at arm's length but also often dampens the experience. The novel also wears its genre tropes on its sleeve and the romance was a bit on the nose. I was most impressed, however, by the subversive thematic elements (particularly concerning female characters, lady friendships, and traditional notions of heroism). It's a lovely debut for the most part, I just wish I was wildly passionate about it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nafiza

    This book is about many things but it is mostly about women being women in the most fantastic ways possible.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angelica

    Hey y'all, it's your girl, back again with another conflicting book review. You know, the usual. Again, this is another book that I am unsure about. On the one hand, I was super into it. On the other hand, it feels like nothing much happened? This book moves at a very slow pace, let's just put that out there. If you like action-packed, fast-paced novels, this ain't the one for you. In fact, this book isn't so much plot focused as it is character focused, and honestly, those are my favorite types o Hey y'all, it's your girl, back again with another conflicting book review. You know, the usual. Again, this is another book that I am unsure about. On the one hand, I was super into it. On the other hand, it feels like nothing much happened? This book moves at a very slow pace, let's just put that out there. If you like action-packed, fast-paced novels, this ain't the one for you. In fact, this book isn't so much plot focused as it is character focused, and honestly, those are my favorite types of books. There are periods of time where it might feel like the plot isn't really moving and it's because the book takes that time to concentrate on fleshing out these characters and making them people that we can cheer for, especially the women. In the author's Goodreads review of her own book, she says that this book is more than anything about women being fantastic, and she is perfectly right. All the women there felt distinct, with their own voices and own struggles. All of them were unique and interesting and I wanted to read more about them. Even the minor female characters like Aruna and the Alif Sisters were amazing and I loved every second of it. Also, can we take a second to appreciate Bhavya's complexity? That said, my love for these characters wasn't enough to make this a five-star read. For this being the author's debut novel, I think it has fantastic writing. My problem is that while it was beautiful and fluid, it was also distant. There is one big event that splits the book in two making a before and after. An event that fundamentally changes the main character's life. After the event the writing changes, adapting to Fatima's new state of mind. The issue is that also this makes it harder to relate to Fatima and her emotions. At times it's like Fatima feels nothing at all like she's empty in her feelings and expressions and I just couldn't love her as I wanted. Another issue is that, as I mentioned, the plot sort of takes a back seat at some point. At times I questioned what the main plot even was. I wouldn't have minded it so much if everything didn't all rush together at the end as if in a mad dash to solve all the problems without us seeing much consequence for everything that happened. Lastly, this isn't so much an issue as it is an observation and a warning. If you are expecting some sort of epic romance, this ain't the book for you. The romance takes the very back seat on this ride, silently brewing in the background while everything else unfolds. I didn't mind this at all, in fact, I appreciated it, but in case you thought you were getting into something along the lines of The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, this is not it. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I read most of it on the trip to New York to Maryland on my way back from BookCon. I was hooked into these character's lives and thoughts and struggles. This is the kind of book that several of you might not enjoy as much due to its slow and character-driven nature. But if you're into well-written fantasies about female friendship and strength, with some sprinkle of slow-burning romance on the top, then I highly recommend. Also, can we just appreciate the beautiful cover for a minute? Can we also appreciate that this is a standalone novel with its own self-contained story? We don't get very many of those anymore. **I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.** Follow Me Here Too: My Blog || Twitter || Bloglovin' || Instagram || Tumblr || Pinterest

  4. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    IT'S ARRIVED!!! I want this cover as an art print on my wall. My goddess. It's gorgeous!!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Acqua

    The Candle and the Flame is unlike every other YA fantasy novel I've read, and I love it for that. It's a slowly-unfolding tale about politics, family and love set in Noor, a city on the Silk Road, and it's the kind of really detailed, atmospheric fantasy I can't get enough of. I struggled with it at first. I often do, with slow-paced novels, but what made this one particularly hard to get into was the omniscient narration in third person present, very jarring at first, but which I started to see The Candle and the Flame is unlike every other YA fantasy novel I've read, and I love it for that. It's a slowly-unfolding tale about politics, family and love set in Noor, a city on the Silk Road, and it's the kind of really detailed, atmospheric fantasy I can't get enough of. I struggled with it at first. I often do, with slow-paced novels, but what made this one particularly hard to get into was the omniscient narration in third person present, very jarring at first, but which I started to see as beautiful once I got used to it. I don't have any problems with it, as it's a choice that clearly made sense for the story, and I struggled with it because of habits, and not because of bad execution. And the writing really is beautiful. Food descriptions are my weakness, and this book has so many of them. I appreciated the level of detail the author wove into the story - it's never just a tree, it's a gulmohar (the beautiful Delonis regia) and it's never just a dress or jewels, Nafiza Azad will tell you which kind of dress, which kinds of jewels. Which also means that, depending on how familiar the cultures represented are to you, this book might require a lot of googling. And to say that I don't mind that is an understatement, I actually love it. The city of Noor is now one of my favorite YA fantasy setting. It reminded me a bit of the Cairo of P. Djèlí Clark's The Haunting of Tram Car 015 - not because Noor and that alternate version of Cairo are similar (they're really not), but because both these fantasy books portray multi-cultural cities with humans of different cultures and faiths coexisting, and also coexisting with Djinn. It really stands out how unrealistically and depressingly homogeneous the average fantasy city is. Also, this means that you get descriptions of Turkish food and Korean food and so many dishes from the Indian subcontinent. (Also, there's a mention of a very minor character being queer and I appreciate books that acknowledge explicitly that queer characters exist in their world. And I'm not completely sure it's canon but Sunaina is totally not straight as far as I'm concerned) But enough about the setting, let's talk about the story and characters. When the author said that this book is about women being women in the most fantastic ways possible, I didn't really know what she meant, but now I can say that I totally agree. There are so many female characters in this book, all of them very different from each other, some of them morally gray to some degree, and the way this book sidestepped completely some misogynistic stereotypes - how easy it would have been to make the rajkumari just a spoiled, entitled princess who hated the protagonist, and how many books have I read that do exactly that - without having all relationships between women be smooth and friendly is one of the things I liked the most. I loved reading about Fatima Ghazala and Sunaina's relationship as adopted sisters who went through a lot together, because it's strained and developed and all but stagnant during the story. I also loved reading about the Alif sisters' banter. I really liked Fatima Ghazala, especially because she was allowed to be distant and sometimes cold without being villainized for it. Also, ownvoices Muslim main character in fantasy! I liked her romance with Zulfikar, even though I didn't feel strongly about it - they're not... my type? I don't know if that makes sense, but I don't think there's anything wrong with the romance - and I really appreciated the conversations they had about forgiveness, grieving and what makes a monster. The political intrigue in this book was predictable, but I also feel like it was supposed to be - this isn't the kind of book that wants or needs to surprise you with plot twists - so I didn't mind that too much.

  6. 4 out of 5

    may ❀

    this cover is prettier than me and im totally okay with that ALL THESE ASIAN INSPIRED FANTASIES ARE MAKING ME WEAK 2019 did it y'all, it saved YA

  7. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    “The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too.” ... My grief is of a different kind, gentle reader, for I was highly anticipating The Candle and the Flame, with it's desert fantasy setting, feminist themes, and promise of magic. And now I'm bitterly disappointed. Today we're mourning the very last time I ever gave a shit. *shakes fist* I just. UGH. I wanted to love Nafiza Azad's debut so much. I mean, look at that cover! I weep from its “The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too.” ... My grief is of a different kind, gentle reader, for I was highly anticipating The Candle and the Flame, with it's desert fantasy setting, feminist themes, and promise of magic. And now I'm bitterly disappointed. Today we're mourning the very last time I ever gave a shit. *shakes fist* I just. UGH. I wanted to love Nafiza Azad's debut so much. I mean, look at that cover! I weep from its beauty. Considering the premise of this book as well, I was sure that I'd at least like this book. In The Candle and the Flame, we follow our main character Fatima. She has lived in the city of Noor, a desert metropolis home to thousands of people of many cultures, races, and ethnicities. Ever since a band of evil Jinn called the Shayateen attacked the city and slaughtered most of its citizens, a group of orderly Jinn called the Ifrit have protected Noor alongside the Maharaja, and at the beginning of this book, the death of an important Jinn causes Fatima to gain magical abilites that no human has ever possessed: Jinn fire. Because of her new magic, she is transported to the palace of the Maharaja, where she meets Zulfikar, the emir of the Ifrit that help protect the city. Palace intrigue, secrets, and danger ensue as another Shayateen attack is imminent. What sounded like a heart-pounding, lush fantasy story turned out to be a boring slog that I couldn't wait to finish. Yeah, I'm just as surprised as you probably are. I'll start off by talking about the things I liked: mainly, the beautiful setting. I really loved it. Azad painted Noor City in gorgeous array of sights and sounds and colors, so much so that I felt truly transported. The entire novel's sense of place was most definitely the strongest aspect of The Candle and the Flame, as well as the jinn lore that was intermittently introduced throughout the story. Could the world-building have been more organic? Yes. I understand, however, that this is Azad's debut, and introducing a world with complex magic, history, and lore can be very difficult, especially if you're trying to balance a story and character arcs on top of that. I also really appreciated the themes Azad chose to explore here. I'm always here for feminist stories with female friendships and relationships at the fore front, and on some levels the author delivered. I will, however, say that the whole endeavor was very...surface level. Which leads me into my main issues with this book. Every character and story element in this book felt contrived and under-developed. It's bad that I don't remember half of our characters' names, even though I finished this a couple weeks ago. While Fatima, our heroine, had more dimension to her than the rest of our characters, I still found her to be bland and uninteresting. Azad also did something peculiar with Fatima halfway through the book: through circumstances that I won't explain for fear of spoilers, her entire character just...changes. Like, COMPLETELY. It was so jarring that I almost put down the book entirely. I got used to it, but I can't deny that Fatima (oh, sorry, Fatima Ghazala) and the constant repetition of her full name really annoyed me. Please, for the love of God, just use some pronouns!! Also, after her sudden transformation, Fatima Ghazala becomes good at pretty much everything over night: she stands up to herself, masters her magic very quickly, and defeats a trained soldier in a swordfight after zero practice. She also has no idea how beautiful she is. ... *retreats to an isolated mountaintop to contemplate my existence* None of the characters felt real. Fatima's best friends, who were a trio of sisters, were cute, but not very interesting. I didn't give a damn about the princess of Noor or the Maharaja. Sunaina, Fatima's older sister, had the potential to be interesting but wound up boring me too. Even Zulfikar, who I thought I was going to like, who was supposed to be this badass warrior, turned out to be a boring idiot who did nothing but make stupid decisions. The antagonists were mustache-twirling villains with hardly feasible motivations. Aaruv, the Maharaja's younger brother, was just a sleazy perv who assaulted woman, and nothing else. It would have been more interesting if Azad at least made him appear likable at first, but he was just disgusting. The other main villain in The Candle and the Flame was a part of a twist that I spotted from a mile away, and he was also laughably cartoonish. I would've had a better time reading this book if the story were in any way entertaining, but literally nothing happens. Nothing. I'm serious. Characters walk around the night market, eat street food, and talk about crushes and other trivial stuff that doesn't matter for almost the entire book. The pacing slowed to a crawl halfway through and I was so BORED. What's frustrating is that I can see glimmers of the great story that Azad was trying to tell. I really could, and why she chose to focus her attentions on mundane activities and boring dialogue instead of magic and intrigue baffles me. The political "intrigue" we got in this book was under-developed and uninteresting, and even the ending left me completely unsatisfied. I hoped that the romance in this book would help me salvage some enjoyment from The Candle and the Flame, but I didn't like it. Zulfikar was a boring, bland, really hot love interest with zero personality. He made so many stupid mistakes, did next to NOTHING for a majority of this book, and was drawn in by Fatima the moment he met her. *gags* There was no chemistry between these characters, and whatever angst the author tried to introduce felt forced and nonsensical. Can we just stop with the magical mating bonds, please?! I can appreciate the amount of respect the two had for one another, and that their relationship wasn't problematic, but I didn't give a shit about their romance regardless. I know it sounds like I'm bitching just because I can, but I really wanted to love this. I was planning on loving this! Sadly, though, this will probably be one of the biggest let-downs of the year for me. I cry. Yet again I was duped by a beautiful cover. Ah well.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    Yet another disappointment of 2019. This story just didn’t stick in my mind, or really make any sort of coherent sense within the story that was being forcibly told. The writing was so bland. The world building was good, but the characters were so one dimensional I couldn’t invest in any of them. Honestly I couldn’t detail much of the plot. Apart from our protagonist’s skill set and development (debatable) the rest just seemed to be thrown in like a wild game of Tetris. I need to stop beautiful cove Yet another disappointment of 2019. This story just didn’t stick in my mind, or really make any sort of coherent sense within the story that was being forcibly told. The writing was so bland. The world building was good, but the characters were so one dimensional I couldn’t invest in any of them. Honestly I couldn’t detail much of the plot. Apart from our protagonist’s skill set and development (debatable) the rest just seemed to be thrown in like a wild game of Tetris. I need to stop beautiful covers persuading me to read them. Arc provided in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    3.5 stars ⇒ WHAT I LIKED ✧ I adored the main character, Fatima Ghazala. She grew so much throughout the book and she was so fiery (both literally and metaphorically). I thought she was a strong character, both when it came to her development and her personality, and I loved reading about her! ✧ The themes of empowerment, specifically female empowerment, were so amazing? In this world, there’s a lot of misogyny, but it’s always called out, and seeing all the women in this book be so strong and fie 3.5 stars ⇒ WHAT I LIKED ✧ I adored the main character, Fatima Ghazala. She grew so much throughout the book and she was so fiery (both literally and metaphorically). I thought she was a strong character, both when it came to her development and her personality, and I loved reading about her! ✧ The themes of empowerment, specifically female empowerment, were so amazing? In this world, there’s a lot of misogyny, but it’s always called out, and seeing all the women in this book be so strong and fierce was definitely a highlight. I mean, Fatima Ghazala pretty much burned someone for harassing and touching her inappropriately. I would like to request the rights to be that powerful!! ✧ Other themes I loved included the importance placed on family and friends. I’m a sucker for any kind of strong familial bond, and as is expected of an Asian book, there were many in this one! I loved Fatima Ghazala’s relationship with her sister, and especially with her elders, and I thought her fun friendship with the Alif sisters added a nice contrast to the other heavier content. “Only monsters kill without regard to the life they are taking. You are not a monster.” ✧ The writing was absolutely gorgeous. Though it was a little hard to get into at first, it was still so beautiful, and Azad’s descriptions of pretty much just everything (ESPECIALLY the food) were so enticingly written. ✧ Through Azad’s expert writing, I fell in love with the city of Noor. It’s extremely immersive, and the fantastic blend of people and cultures made for the Ultimate fantasy setting. Plus Silk Road-inspired!!! I don’t need to say anymore. ✧ I also liked the romance!! I will admit that it was a little, uhhhh, insta-lovey, BUT it was written in a way that I was still able to care about it and like it and not just be completely annoyed by it (which happens all too often). ✧ I wasn’t expecting how dark it got sometimes?? It wasn’t horribly gruesome and violent (although you should still check CWs at the end of my review just in case!), but there were some instances where it got dark and I LOVED IT. ✧ (I also loved the tiny part where Sunaina said no man would ever feel right to marry… WLW SOLIDARITY!!! I have high expectations for her and a certain someone based on that ending.) ⇒ WHAT I DISLIKED ✧ I think my biggest issue (and why I took off a half star) with this book was that I had no idea what Fatima Ghazala was trying to achieve in this book, and as a result, the plot was kind of just all over the place. There was no one big climax (at least, one that I could see), and while Fatima Ghazala’s character develops so much, I just didn’t see her goal throughout the book and that threw me off. ✧ I also think that while the writing was absolutely gorgeous and full of beautiful descriptions, it was also a little heavy and dense, at least in the beginning. It got much easier to read the further you get in the book, but the first 70 pages or so were definitely a bit of a struggle for me to read quickly. ✧ And finally, it’s a minor thing, but the end of the book left me vaguely unsatisfied. I think that it wrapped up nicely, but because of the whole missing character goal and climax, I just felt like there was something more to come, and there wasn’t. ⇒ IN CONCLUSION I think that while it may take some time to get into the book at first, it is definitely worth the read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and while I may have had issues with character motives, I loved the characters themselves and immersed myself in this beautiful world. :: rep :: all-Asian cast, Muslim MC + other major side characters, probably queer major side character (not explicit) :: content warnings :: death (of loved ones and in general), murder (including beheading), depictions of grief, burning Thank you to the author and Scholastic for sending me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinions in any way. All quotes were taken from an unfinished copy and may differ in final publication.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hartman

    I blurbed this book, and it is certifiably delightful! For me, I think my favorite part was how hopeful it is. You have all these different people -- different religions, ethnicities, outlooks, histories, to say nothing of the magical djinn -- and they're all living together at this great crossroads of the world, and they're finding ways to understand each other and get along. Not that it's always easy! But people of goodwill, this book seems to say, can work to find a way (often through food, h I blurbed this book, and it is certifiably delightful! For me, I think my favorite part was how hopeful it is. You have all these different people -- different religions, ethnicities, outlooks, histories, to say nothing of the magical djinn -- and they're all living together at this great crossroads of the world, and they're finding ways to understand each other and get along. Not that it's always easy! But people of goodwill, this book seems to say, can work to find a way (often through food, haha). And it's just such a relief. It's needed and necessary and beautiful, and I just wanted to curl up and stay there forever. All that, plus an exciting plot and fabulous romance! I know, I know, most people mention those first, but world-building is my catnip.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mary S. R.

    Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. A magical book set along the Silk Road based on Middle-Eastern myths? WOW. I LOVE how diverse fantasy books are becoming! Personally that's one of my fave things about the genre: how it can embrace and explore such different cultures and still keep true to their beauty and origins However, the city bears scars of its recent p Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. A magical book set along the Silk Road based on Middle-Eastern myths? WOW. I LOVE how diverse fantasy books are becoming! Personally that's one of my fave things about the genre: how it can embrace and explore such different cultures and still keep true to their beauty and origins However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population—except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar. Also a book about scars and healing and destruction and rebuilding :))) Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences. This is the most important thing about it and what makes this a total MUST READ: names and identity are topics that deserve millions of books, women even more, and cooperation, acceptance, and unity even more than that! So yes, I need this, and that's not even talking about the cover that had me senseless and lost Such potential :) can't wait to see what tapestry the author has woven this artfully; join me in the wait!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vicky Who Reads

    4.5 stars It was a solid 4 until I got to the last 100ish pages and then teared up def recommend!!!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fafa's Book Corner

    Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner! Beware spoilers ahead! Trigger warning: Grief Rep: Indian, Pakistani, and Arab characters. Other Asian ethnicities present. Hindu and Islam are some of the religions present. Along with those religions comes culture. Such as food and clothing. It is hinted that Bhavya is/was fat. I received an ARC via the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. However this review is based on the final version. This review is written for the #TheCandleAndTheF Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner! Beware spoilers ahead! Trigger warning: Grief Rep: Indian, Pakistani, and Arab characters. Other Asian ethnicities present. Hindu and Islam are some of the religions present. Along with those religions comes culture. Such as food and clothing. It is hinted that Bhavya is/was fat. I received an ARC via the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. However this review is based on the final version. This review is written for the #TheCandleAndTheFlame street team and blog tour.  Book 4 for The Theme Thieves: Diversity. Fatima lives with her sister Sunaina. 8 years prior their parents were murdered by the Shayateen. The sisters have a tense but loving relationship since that day. Fatima's life is fairly ordinary. She works as a messenger for Achal Kaur. And is close friends/family with the Alif sisters. Once Fatima finishes work she comes home and spends time with her sister.  Amongst her regular customers is Firdaus who runs a bookstore. Though funnily enough Firdaus doesn't actually sell any books. No one knows how he is the most successful book seller. That's not the only things mysterious about Firdaus, no one knows much about him. And somehow Fatima knows that Firdaus isn't human, but is in fact a djinn. Much to Fatima's confusion she knows weird tid bits of information as such. Like that attack 8 years ago, she knew she would survive due to her blood. Odd knowledge aside Fatima is very close to Firdaus. Treating him like her father.  Fatima's life takes a drastic turn when she meets Zulfikar, a djinn and Emir to Noor city. Rumors are spreading about a rebellion fighting against Maharajah Aarush and the Ifrit. Firdaus becomes involved and the incident drastically changes Fatima. For her safety Zulfikar takes Fatima to the palace for her safety.  I'd seen The Candle and the Flame all over Twitter last year. While I was initially interested I moved on. It wasn't until people were mentioning that the main character was a Muslim that I started to care. When Nafiza asked POC readers if they would like to read the arc for review I commented. Much to my surprise and delight I was approved! I ended up reading the final version because I didn't get to the arc earlier. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! The Candle and the Flame is written in third person omniscient. There is a table of contents, a character list and chapter numbers.  I loved how family both found and blood played a huge role! Fatima and Sunaina's relationship while tense was loving and it showed. Bhavya's love for her brother and nephew was so sweet! I especially loved the dynamic the Alif sisters had! Hand's down some of my favourite characters. The world building was rich in languages and culture! I could feel myself walking beside these characters and sometimes feel/taste the food. Nafiza's writing style was fantastic. While the djinn world wasn't fully explained I found it unique and interesting. I loved that it was a matriarchal society! I really liked Fatima! I related quite a bit to her struggles and loved that she was strong in her own way. When Fatima became Fatima Ghazala I found it a bit strange seeing the narrative took a different turn to match this change. It felt like everything that made her Fatima was gone. As I read on this wasn't the case, it simply felt like that in the beginning. Becoming Fatima Ghazala helped her further grow into her own. Sunaina and Bhavya were a bit annoying in the beginning but they grew on me. It helped that I was able to read their perspectives. I liked how Sunaina realized that she wasn't a supportive sister and decided to change that. In order to better support Fatima Ghazala. Bhavya decided to make her own decisions and not let people dictate how she chose to live. Ultimately Bhayva didn't completely overcome her insecurities but seems to continue to make the effort at the end. I would say that Bhayva's character development was my favourite! Aarush really wasn't the brightest person let alone a king. He let people fool him for too long until it cost him dearly. I think people will grow very frustrated with him. Which I understand and I did too. However I did enjoy reading about his inner struggles. I felt it made him more flawed and human. At certain points he does stand up for what he believes and I respect that. I do like how in the end he actually plans to improve himself rather than remain stagnant. The Alif sisters were a lovely addition! They were written so well and a main part of Fatima and Sunaina's life. I related to Adila the most and loved her interactions with Fatima Ghazala! Zulfikar surprised me! He doesn't have the best introduction to Fatima and I thought that he would be written as many other YA heroes. I was sorely mistaken. When it comes down to it Zulfikar takes his job seriously and actually cares about those around him. Zulfikar and Fatima Ghazala's relationship was slow burn. I enjoyed that whilst they were attracted to each other, it wasn't written in an annoying way. The progression in their relationship was done so well! The Candle and the Flame is very much a character driven story. While there is an underlying plot, it's not necessarily the main focus. It's also very much a women dominated story. The larger focus is on the women and their character development. As well as their relationships to one-another. As far as criticism's go I would've loved some of the loser ends to have been tied up. Whilst I understand that's also what makes the story realistic. I also would've loved to learn more about Al-Naar and the djinn's.  Overall I thoroughly enjoyed The Candle and the Flame! I highly recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    julia ♥

    read the full review on my blog: here "The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too." Ever since laying eyes on this over-the-top GORGEOUS cover, I've been in love with this book. The Candle and the Flame pulled me in with its enchanting premise and I couldn't wait to devour it. Imagine how elated I was to see I could read this beauty early! The Candle and the Flame blew me away with its fantastical story and Nafiza's magical writing read the full review on my blog: here "The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too." Ever since laying eyes on this over-the-top GORGEOUS cover, I've been in love with this book. The Candle and the Flame pulled me in with its enchanting premise and I couldn't wait to devour it. Imagine how elated I was to see I could read this beauty early! The Candle and the Flame blew me away with its fantastical story and Nafiza's magical writing style. 2019 has a bunch of diverse fantasies coming out, and I'm absolutely LOVING it. Then, it's probably no surprised I ended up adoring everything about this beautiful book. What is this book about? The Candle and the Flame follows Fatima, who lives in Noor, a city previously destroyed by the Shayateen Djinn. The only ones who survived the attack were Fatima and a few others. Now, peace has seemingly returned to Noor under the rule of a new maharajah, and the city currently lies under the protection of the Emir, Zulfikar, and his army of djinn. Carrying her past with her, Fatima has been surviving on the streets of Noor for as long as she can remember, however, when one of the most powerful Ifrit dies, something fundamentally changes within Fatima's being. She is pulled into a whole new world, and something bigger than she ever imagined existed has come for her. "The humans call this place the Desert of Sadness, they believe that the land grieves for the forests that once stood on it." What did I think of The Candle and the Flame? The Candle and the Flame weaves such an intricate and immersive story, it's hard not to be pulled into this beautiful world right from the first page. The beginning of the book nicely sets the stage for this fantasy standalone. There is a lot of world-building going on in the first chapters, which I found infinitely fascinating. The author manages to incorporate so many beautiful Silk Road as well as Islamic cultural influences, which I absolutely adored. The book is filled with beautiful languages: Arabic, Hindu, Punjabi, to name a few, and she manages to seamlessly transition between them to create an intricately crafted universe. Despite the fact this book is rooted in fantasy, The Candle and the Flame contains a lot of social commentary that really hits the spot. I particularly loved how the book addresses topics such as women's rights by taking on a fierce and feminist take by for example introducing a matriarchal society, and the many (MANY!) kickass female characters. It's refreshing to see how women aren't pitted against each other for once, but instead they all receive a big role within this beautifully crafted universe. I also love seeing the multicultural universe that this book supplies, by mixing languages and cultural influences. The writing itself is absolutely breathtaking. The tone of the book is so magical and fantastical and really helps to immerse the reader within the story and its world. The beautiful lyrical prose and elaborate descriptions really make the universe that the author depicts come to life. I think the characters, too, were very nicely done and built, considering this book was always meant to be a standalone. Stand-alones have the danger of falling into the insta-love trap because there is so little time to start, build, and conclude a story. I loved the relationship between the two main characters, and the romance didn't feel forced at all. Instead, the novel had a very fairytale-like feeling, with its magical aspects and its deep romantic bond. I genuinely ended up adoring this book. The world-building, gorgeous culture, and solid themes are what made The Candle and the Flame stand out for me. I think this is an excellent book if you're looking for a great immersive standalone that, despite its fantastical elements, bears an important message. This read is a solid 5 stars and I can't wait to see what the author writes next. I LOVED IT!

  15. 5 out of 5

    ʙᴇʟʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。.

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!) DNF at 40% Sadly, I DNFed it. I think this is a case of "It's me, not you". I wanted to give a million stars to this book, (I even pre-ordered it) because: - Intricate Multicultural Universe - Diversity - Lush sceneries - Amazing Female Friendships - Women Empowerment - DJINNS, I mean, who doesn't like DJINNS? - And that lovely cover. But unfortunately, it was really hard to stay focused. There were too many POV's, t ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!) DNF at 40% Sadly, I DNFed it. I think this is a case of "It's me, not you". I wanted to give a million stars to this book, (I even pre-ordered it) because: - Intricate Multicultural Universe - Diversity - Lush sceneries - Amazing Female Friendships - Women Empowerment - DJINNS, I mean, who doesn't like DJINNS? - And that lovely cover. But unfortunately, it was really hard to stay focused. There were too many POV's, too many characters and confusing Politics and very large amounts of information supplied all at once. I could not connect with Fatima, most likely because of the 3rd Person Present in which it was written. The romance was insta-love and it was sweet but the writing and characters just didn't click with me. However, I still recommend it and I praise the author for weaving very important messages in this story and creating an amazing world. I will definitely try to read what she writes next!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dani - Perspective of a Writer

    Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... The Buzz When I saw the cover reveal for The Candle and the Flame on twitter that pretty much decided me. It was soooo gorgeous! I HAD to know if it was a story I would love or not... Previously I've not had good luck with Djinn stories so I was seriously scared... But this ended up becoming one of my top books of 2019! The Premise We start The Candle and the Flame on the Silk Road and find our way to the city of Noor. What an incredible descriptio Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... The Buzz When I saw the cover reveal for The Candle and the Flame on twitter that pretty much decided me. It was soooo gorgeous! I HAD to know if it was a story I would love or not... Previously I've not had good luck with Djinn stories so I was seriously scared... But this ended up becoming one of my top books of 2019! The Premise We start The Candle and the Flame on the Silk Road and find our way to the city of Noor. What an incredible description of culture! I was seriously blow away by this setting... literally feeling like I was running the streets with Fatima. We got a sense right away of what it means to be a Muslim as Fatima went about her faith, while not feeling like I was preached at. This is what it means to write about culture. The food, people, clothes, customs! It’s all here. Third person narrative can be hard for some readers but when there are multiple POVs I find its a lot easier to keep track of which character's head I'm in. While we focus on Fatima, we find ourselves in the head and lives of several women who surround her. We start with a woman who knows loss... Ghazala, a djinn who I bonded with immediately. Why did she choose to sacrifice for this child? What does her act do to the fate of little Fatima? As we get to know Fatima we learn that her history is full of death and loss for those who love her and she has lived to wonder why. In The Candle and the Flame she comes to learn the answer to these questions as the maharajah, his family and the Ifrit commander, Zulfikar deal with the next conflict for the city of Noor. Unfortunately Fatima was rather blah at first, but TBH I was so busy learning about the world of djinn that I didn't even think much about her until the next tragedy struck her life. This is when we pick up speed in the story. I fell hard for the girl that is Fatima Ghazala and other modern woman are bound to fall for her too. She really lived up to the promise hinted at in the prologue... and the world of the djinn is rich with culture, drama, conflict, history and strength. The djinn that interfaced with the city of Noor fascinated me. I loved the subtle romance at the heart of this female empowered story. At first you'll think... oh no, not instalove, but its not that at all! There is uncertainty when a person falls in love and I loved the form it took here. The political plot that is at the heart of The Candle and the Flame isn't trying to hide who the villains are, that is rather obvious. Instead we explore what it means to be loved ones even if we're part of the maharajah's family. When does our political position trump happiness? When is it okay to choose happiness over our loved ones? I loved the twisted way we looked at this political plotting that is so typical with any kind of royal family. My Experience It's pretty clear why I loved The Candle and the Flame so much. The showing was superb, the cultural description was excellent, the characters were root worthy and defined the world. It's honestly hard to talk about anything but how well written this book is. How caught up I felt. And how happy I was with the end. It has this feeling of being a standalone read (i.e. the story feels complete and satisfying) but I can see where another story with these characters would be something I would be happy to support! I will say there is a bit of odd duplication. We'd learn something from one POV and then find the same information from another. This didn't happen over and over and was said differently every times so its not bothersome. But while The Candle and the Flame isn't perfect it is an experience you will relish like I did. Why should EVERYONE read The Candle and the Flame? -Muslim representation. I'm on the side of the fence where I prefer the details we learn about a character to play into the story. I was really jazzed how Fatima's need to pray factored into her daily life and became a part of who she is. -F/F representation. I was totally blown away with this subplot! The F/F representation came out in such a way that I didn't feel like such diversity was shoe horned in. I love and adore when conflict arises naturally from who the characters are. -Female Influence. The princess isn't really a likable character at first but that read really true to me. I loved how other females in her life influenced her for the better. The right role models paired with adversity helps us become the person we're meant to be. -The Djinn. Of course, I've got to talk about the supernaturals! I loved the naming magic and how it worked for Fatima. What we learn about the Shayateen and them being of chaos. The matriarchal society of the Ifrit that didn't emasculate men was also quite neat. -Fatima's Relationships. I was drawn in so well because Fatima's relationships felt so real and raw. From the one with her adopted sister, to her best friend and her family, to the old bookseller with a secret and even the older women she sees as grandmothers. Even her vying with Zulfikar was so lovely. Cover & Title grade -> A+ The Candle and the Flame is such a gorgeous cover! It totally sold me and I am happy to report the culture described within lives up to that beauty. And Fatima Ghazala gives us a young Muslim woman who is both a candle and a flame in the most empowering of ways. I can't think of a better marketing strategy than this cover and title. The Candle and the Flame is rich with impressively realistic and relatable characters with a tapestry of a world as a backdrop filled with the twisted lines of good and evil, order and chaos. Fatima Ghazala makes it easy to root for her to resolve her past and look to her future. It's an experience you won't regret jumping into... ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building Thanks to Edelweiss and Scholastic Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions. ______________________ You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. Read my special perspective under the typewriter on my reviews... Please like this review if you enjoyed it! *bow* *bow* It helps me out a ton!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Fari

    *Thanks so much to Scholastic CA for providing me with an ARC! Though the quotes I used are beautiful, they are from the ARC and subject to change. *Buddy read with Rendz! https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6... I have never before read a story where the main character’s life is so routinely divided by adhaans and their subsequent prayers. All those halal romance jokes and complaints about rishta ettiquete were hilarious. I’ve read 2 other books/series this year with Muslim characters but the oth *Thanks so much to Scholastic CA for providing me with an ARC! Though the quotes I used are beautiful, they are from the ARC and subject to change. *Buddy read with Rendz! https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6... I have never before read a story where the main character’s life is so routinely divided by adhaans and their subsequent prayers. All those halal romance jokes and complaints about rishta ettiquete were hilarious. I’ve read 2 other books/series this year with Muslim characters but the other religion in those stories was Christianity; however, this story contains lots of Hindu characters and culture, as well as some Buddism and Judaism. Apu, beeji, and didi all appear in the story and they are all the different ways my friends and I call our sisters, depending on our religion/country of origin. This story makes me so nostalgic of my home and culture and it makes my heart ache. On page 258 of the ARC, in the last paragraph, (I am keeping track of this event, okay) Fatima buys a tray of pani puris from a street vendor and I was hit with the realization that it has been nearly 10 years since I’ve last done that. A near decade. What kind of duibious-pani-puri-less life am I currently living? Where is the thrill of life if you’re not constantly wondering whether the water used for pani puri was even clean and what the chances of you getting sick after devouring them all? I digress. The book started and completely sucked me in, right from the prologue. The writing is atmospheric, the world lively, and I was lost in it. I love all the descriptions of the city and everything in it. It’s almost as if I’ve made Noor my home, too. Fatima takes a deep breath and then another. She remembers Firdaus and the sense of belonging she feels with him, the kinship. She thinks of the Alif sisters, who are more family than friends. She is not alone. She will be alright. Not right now but later, when it hurts a bit less, she will be alright. Fatima was a lovely main character. She is intelligent and selfless but she knows her own worth. There were a few hiccups and, at times, she seems a little snow-flakey (I’m still not totally on board with something because she didn’t have to do anything to earn it!) but her love and inner strength and insight made her interesting to read from. Also, lmao I just really didn’t care for the romance. I think this and some things about Fatima’s characterizations were the only two things that hindered my experience reading the book. I liked Fatima and I was neutral about our love interest but nothing about them together drew me in. It was somewhat insta-love and I just didn’t see the chemistry. I didn’t root for them and I didn’t care what happened in the romance aspect. That’s all fine and dandy for the first half but the romance becomes a much larger part in the second half of the book and wow, I just wasn’t sold. I really enjoyed the third person omniscient thing this book has going on. It’s definitely my favourite tense and I thought this novel executed it well. I love how we got to see different characters and their situations and perspectives and, as the book continued on, how they all interconnected. Guys, the women in this book! ”I wasn’t sure whether I would be punished for hurting him.” Fatima lets out a short, brittle laugh. “What a strange world we live in. He attacked me and yet I am the one worrying about being punished. There are a plethora of women in this book, which can be rare in fantasy, unfortunately, and they were all so different and likeable. Not always likeable in the sense that they always did the right thing or good thing but likeable in that I could understand where they were coming from even when their actions made me upset. They were strong in their own ways and all trying to forge their own paths in a world where women are pressed in from all sides and beaten down when they don’t submit. We need these women who take up the space they deserve in the world. In many cases, conflicts between women are reduced to petty jealousy and misoginy and hatred. I was so pleasantly surprised by how this was turned on its head in this book. The book also explored themes of femininity and feminism and women’s lives and control and just. Good stuff. This review got a lot longer than planned, oops, but the writing and the culture and the women in the book deserved it. Conclusion: Read It. ~~~~~ It feels so good to read the summary and see names like Fatima or words that are so familiar to me like djinn and maharajah (and knowing how to pronounce them lmao this happens -3% of the time with fantasy). Also, the author's a hijabi and Canadian. The book sounds interesting and all these details make my chest ache a little. I can't wait !!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Ground breaking and immersive paranormal YA that evokes all the beauty, richness and diversity of the ancient cultures, faiths and languages of the Silk Road. "The Candle and the Flame" foregrounds exploits of the legendary Djinn: beings of smokeless fire and denizens of two worlds, earth and Al-Naar, whose names are embedded above their hearts, and act to shape them on earth. In the teeming city of Noor — the city of a thousand faces, colours and languages and surrounded by both unforgiving des Ground breaking and immersive paranormal YA that evokes all the beauty, richness and diversity of the ancient cultures, faiths and languages of the Silk Road. "The Candle and the Flame" foregrounds exploits of the legendary Djinn: beings of smokeless fire and denizens of two worlds, earth and Al-Naar, whose names are embedded above their hearts, and act to shape them on earth. In the teeming city of Noor — the city of a thousand faces, colours and languages and surrounded by both unforgiving desert and dense forest — readers will encounter a complex and beautiful tapestry of characters (some of whom you will come to care about deeply) and paranormal beings in the courageous, human-protecting Ifrit, the evil Shayateen who exist to wreak chaos, the murderous ghul, the human-bonded Qareem, and the human rulers and rebels that impact Noor and its denizens. It’s a fiercely feminist take on Islamic culture — kick-ass protagonist Fatima Ghazala, the human girl who possesses Djinn fire and who lives in the shadow of death, spearheads a cast of characters that includes powerful female matriarchs, game changing princesses and canny female entrepreneurs with their fingers on the pulse of the city. There’s an effortless beauty in the kaleidoscopic descriptions of food, fashion, practices and faiths; Azad’s language is so evocative, you can almost taste and smell the riches of the night bazaar. It’s an assured and outside-the-box debut that seamlessly switches from English to Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Baheri and Arabic and deals with larger themes — such as tolerance and women’s rights — while functioning as a thrilling action adventure with touches of heart-stirring romance. Prepare to be swept up.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sahitya

    It’s probably more of a 3.75 but I’m rounding up. I really didn’t know much about this book and I only became interested because of that gorgeous cover and the vague idea that it’s based on Muslim culture. But what happened between the pages of this really surprised me and I can say confidently that it’s been a while since that has happened in a YA fantasy. I’m not usually someone who looks for atmospheric world building but am more satisfied by extensive magic systems, but this world of Noor rea It’s probably more of a 3.75 but I’m rounding up. I really didn’t know much about this book and I only became interested because of that gorgeous cover and the vague idea that it’s based on Muslim culture. But what happened between the pages of this really surprised me and I can say confidently that it’s been a while since that has happened in a YA fantasy. I’m not usually someone who looks for atmospheric world building but am more satisfied by extensive magic systems, but this world of Noor really blew my mind. The author brings this beautiful city to life through her words and I was completely mesmerized and felt myself a part of it every step of the way. Every little thing like the food, the culture, the faith, the customs, the clothes are explained in their glorious detail and I lapped it all up. The supernatural element of the Djinn, their way of life and especially the significance of their naming was explained wonderfully and I really enjoyed their story. Even the differences between the various clans of the Djinn, their inherent natures of order and chaos are told through different perspectives, so we as a reader can decide what we feel about them. The author also does a spectacular job showing us how a true multicultural city feels like, with its amalgamation of cultures and people, everyone living in harmony, preserving their own cultures while also sharing it with others. I don’t think I’ve really read about a more amazing place before and Noor is going to be one of my favorite fantasy worlds for the foreseeable future. But above it all, my favorite part of this book was the inherent desiness of it. The author doesn’t shy away from extensively using Hindi and Urdu words to describe every facet which totally delighted me - I could smell the food and picture the gorgeous saris and ghagras and experience the joy of celebrating Deepavali. This book is full of amazing characters, especially the women and I can’t talk enough about them. Fatima Ghazala has seen a lot of loss in her life, but she is ready to brave more to ensure the protection of her family and the people of her city. She may just be an ordinary citizen who has discovered her latent powers, but that doesn’t mean she will ever let anyone else make decisions for her or let go of her self esteem. I was in awe of her strength even in the most desperate of times. Her sister Sunaina is conflicted about Fatima’s newfound abilities which leads to some strain in their relationship but I liked the way they worked for it, and never let each other go. The Alif sisters and their parents are like found family and I absolutely adored their bond. The sisters bring much needed levity to this story with their hilarious bickering and banter, and their parents become defacto parents for Fatima and Sunaina, always making sure they are taken care of. On the other hand Princess Bhavya is living in a gilded cage and all she wants is the freedom to live her life. While she came across as unlikable initially, we slowly get to know her better and realize all her petulance is only a defense mechanism. Her brother Aarush, the maharajah of Noor is a good person but not a natural leader. I could sympathize with him a bit, but couldn’t absolve him of his indecisiveness. Zulfikar is the Emir of Noor and representative of the Ifrit, and he is definitely a responsible leader but pretty stoic, and I didn’t feel like I got to know him much. The romance between Fatima Ghazala and Zulfikar felt both like instalove and not, the bond between them borne out of magic and holding a lot of uncertain feelings on both sides - it took a long time for them to trust each other with their feelings and I loved this dynamic between them. There is a lot of push and pull, a developing friendship, forced proximity due to their responsibilities - I loved how all these tropes were executed so beautifully together. This is a very slow paced politics driven fantasy, with hardly any action but I slowly fell in love with it. Despite there being rebellion and traitors in the royal court, I loved how the author subverted these usual fantasy tropes. The purpose of this story is not to find who the villains are (they are pretty obvious), but to let us think about what it means to be a leader, a King. We see how competent and decisive women can’t rule the kingdom because of misogynistic rules but an unwilling man remains King, whose inability to make personal sacrifices and be decisive may spell doom for his people. We also see how faith is described as just a part of the daily life of the characters, and not something that separates them from the others. The ownvoices Muslim representation is spot on and I appreciated how much Fatima’s daily prayers are as much a part of her as are her powers. This book is all about women - their love and friendships, their need for freedom and to be able to make choices, to not feel objectified or treated as a possession. We also see the manifestation of all kinds of female strength, both alone and in numbers, physically and in their silences - and this is what elevates this book to more than just a typical YA fantasy. I also particularly enjoyed the discussions around the value of a found family, the importance of forgiveness, and the choice to make sacrifices for the sake of others. This is a very quiet kind of fantasy novel. We have court politics, rebels and supernatural creatures, but it is more about the humans, their lives and the choices they make everyday. If you are looking for a slow paced, very atmospheric fantasy novel with ownvoices Muslim representation and lots of desi elements, then this book is perfect for you. This may not be action packed, but it will definitely make you feel and think and hope.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 3 stars Don't let this rating fool you! I like most things about this book. The setting + the rep: A Silk Road setting??? In my YAs??? Legendary amounts of Asian rep. What I love is that they refer to the specific ethnic groups of people in the language of those specific people rather than by the nationality name in English omg e.g. Uyghur, Kinh (Vietnamese), Han (Korean), and I guess Han (Chinese) (though it's unfortunate both are romanized as 'Han' when they are in fact different Hans but the b 3 stars Don't let this rating fool you! I like most things about this book. The setting + the rep: A Silk Road setting??? In my YAs??? Legendary amounts of Asian rep. What I love is that they refer to the specific ethnic groups of people in the language of those specific people rather than by the nationality name in English omg e.g. Uyghur, Kinh (Vietnamese), Han (Korean), and I guess Han (Chinese) (though it's unfortunate both are romanized as 'Han' when they are in fact different Hans but the book never conflates the two as far as I can infer from the descriptions so ayyyy). I don't have many problems with the world itself. I just wish some things would have been described first to the audience and then named rather than just name-dropped as is. But you know, at least this choice is consistent throughout the entire novel so there's at least that. There's a glossary of terms in the back too. The lore surrounding the Name-Giver and djinn fire is well done. I also love that we get to see Fatima (who is Muslim) pray at different times of day. Plot I don't have any problems with the political background in this story. The main points of the plot are laid out pretty well. I think the pacing issues in the first 1/3 are more due to how the characters are written more than placement of plot elements. Characters: My personal MVPs are Bhayva and Aruna. Tbh I enjoyed the royal family portion of the cast much more than the two MCs. The Alif sisters are amazing as well. So precious, so comical. The main characters To be honest, Fatima (Ghazala) and Zulfikar aren't bad characters per say. They just could have been handled so much better. The story is told from 3rd-person present POV in sort of a cinematic style (almost reminiscent of wildlife documentaries but that's just me). Stylistically, this works in some cases. However at times, the writing is detached from its main characters. From the storytelling, it's clear that FG and Zulfikar are at the focus of the web of characters presented, and their backstories and traumas are evident too. The problem is that the main characters are somehow the least interesting to read about despite the fact that you can intellectually piece together why they are both so important in the plot and why they're supposed to be interesting. Fatima Ghazala has this other-worldly air about her once she changed. Her trauma regarding what happened to Noor years ago creeps up on you. The accumulation of her feelings of loss (for her family) and fear for the loss of the family she still has does pay off when she has her encounter with the Shayateen, but it's rather anticlimactic. If there had been more exploration how her Fatima and Ghalaza sides unified, it would have given her character more dimension, especially since there was a thread about Susaina thinking FG was a monster. While FG thinking she herself is a monster is touched upon, it doesn't go as deep as the narrative could have gone. It would have potentially made FG's story more compelling and satisfying when it was brought to an end. Nitpick on my part: While FG is a badass in martial arts, I felt the inclusion of the scene where she's sparring with Indra didn't have a point besides showing that FG was a badass and needed to blow off steam. I'm not opposed to having a scene like this (because it is cool to see different styles of martial arts from around the world), but scenes like this don't seem to have a purpose for advancing the plot. Zulfikar - I don't have much to say about him besides his jilted past love should have been introduced earlier, and that I like that he sticks up for women. He clearly sips the respecting women juice, as we all should. The love story didn't work for me, but I have to admit the way Fatima Ghazala's family reacted to Zulfikar coming to ask for her hand was hillarious. The people around FG and Zulfikar are far more intriguing that the MCs themselves, and I think that perfectly highlights the problem some readers might have with connecting to the MCs. The cast around the MCs are allowed to be colorful while interacting with them - they synergize with the world Nafiza Azad has built. But the MCs themselves? *shrugs* My advice is that if you frame the book as being more about Noor itself and about family and the connections surrounding Fatima (Ghazala) and Zulfikar, then this will be a much more satisfying story than if you expect the scope of Candle and the Flame to be solely about FG and Zulfikar and if their respective character arcs pay off. Your mileage may vary on that, but imo FG and Zulfikar's endings left somethings to be desired. Other characters Bhavya is best girl, don't at me. Susaina is also pretty good, even though she was frustrating at the start. The Candle and the Flame handles its 2ndary female characters pretty well. Bhavya had a whole damn character arc in the background and maharani Aruna was there to support her in taking charge politically. It almost brought a single tear to my eye because that was beautiful. I thought some of the critique thrown Bhavya's way was unwarranted and excessive, but I guess if you're a royal you have to have some obligatory "you don't know what it's like for the have-nots" speeches given to you or else this isn't a YA novel. Bhavya does her best and she's unapologetic in the end about her actions, so she's my favorite. She feels the most complete as a character, and therefore is the crowning jewel of this book for me. Susaina's arc was good too. I especially loved Bhavya telling Susaina to get a grip and stop associating all djinn with the ones who slaughtered the citizens of Noor. Her revelations about trying to be what people expected her to be were a little left field because I thought her arc had more to do with like familial obligation to Fatima rather than extending that outward to societal expectations. At the end she isn't tied down to those expectations and goes off to travel with friends. In hindsight, I understand Susaina better than while I was in the middle of reading. I also appreciated Susaina's cosmetic business upstart. Geddit, Susaina. Villain + other thoughts (view spoiler)[We been knew about the Wazir's obssession with Ghazala from the start, but the ending truly felt anticlimactic despite that. As a villain, he was nothing more than a two-dimensional obsession-twirling villain. I don't expect the bad guys to be totally humanized in their motivations, but after reading the entire book wondering who the antagonist is, it was a huge let down that it was none other than the Wazir because that was the most obvious reveal. It was very straight-forward that he ended up being the big bad behind it all, that it wasn't even rewarding to see this guy get poofed by Fatima Ghazala (iirc) in front of his mom as punishment. (hide spoiler)] I even thought Aarush's depth was sacrificed a bit to make Bhavya and Aruna look better (even tho they already look THE BEST tbh). This is a pattern I noticed for the book in general. Some character moments/nuance were sacrificed to make some other parts of the book wrap up neatly, or to make certain characters look better (rather than taking the time to develop those charas to actually be better-er). Overall The pacing and romance aren't for everyone, but I do have to note how good the world-building and representation is in here. We have so many different religions and cultures shown. I'm very glad that we have a YA book set on the Silk Road. We have awesome female characters and some interesting lore. Ultimately I would say this story is about Fatima (Ghazala)'s support system - the city of Noor, her family and friends, and how they shaped her, and help her cope and grieve with loss. YMMV for the ending too. Note: ARC provided by the publisher from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review! Thank you. Very excited to get into this!! I'm gonna be on a long plane trip so this was a timely e-ARC approval.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress.... The Candle and the Flame was a fantasy title that I had on my wish-list because I had heard that it was inspired by Middle Eastern mythology and ever since watching the first season of American Gods I have wanted to learn more about mythology from different cultures. I requested a review copy from the publisher and was thrilled when a physical copy arrived. I knew the book was about djinns and set on the Silk Road and I kn You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress.... The Candle and the Flame was a fantasy title that I had on my wish-list because I had heard that it was inspired by Middle Eastern mythology and ever since watching the first season of American Gods I have wanted to learn more about mythology from different cultures. I requested a review copy from the publisher and was thrilled when a physical copy arrived. I knew the book was about djinns and set on the Silk Road and I knew very little about either of those things, so I was excited for what I hoped was an original and cultural fantasy novel. The Candle and the Flame was vivid and imaginative, it was filled with a myriad of cultures and beautiful characters, it lived up to my expectations, but also exceeded them in many ways. The setting of Noor, a city on the Silk Road, was so unique. I haven't read any fantasy novels set in the Middle-East and I am glad that this was my first because it was done so well. The Silk Road was a trade route that went from China all the way through the Middle-East, so a city set on it would see many different cultures and people, which are represented in this story. At the beginning of the story I did find it a little difficult to jump right in because there were so many terms used that I didn't know. but I took it slow and referred to the glossary in the back. I knew very little about Muslim culture, but was still able to feel deeply engaged with this book that was so full of it because of how vividly everything was described. Nafiza Azad seamlessly blended historical fiction with fantasy in a way that felt real, but was also beautiful and fascinating. The pacing of this book is pretty slow and the plot is mostly character driven. The story is told in third person and focuses on several different characters and you get to know each of them pretty well. Fatima is the main character and while her story is the most interesting, I actually favored Bhavya's character the most. While the plot is pretty good and the reason I picked up this book was to read about djinn, it was the rich culture and human struggles of he characters that really made this story shine. The Candle and the Flame is an absolute knockout for a debut fantasy novel. It is full of diverse cultures and layered characters. While I prefer a bit of a faster paced story, I really did love this book. The city of Noor, it's people and their struggles came to life through Nafiza Azad's vivid writing. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to read and review this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Khadidja ~on hiatus~

    THIS COVER!!!!!!! SOMEBODY HOLD ME

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔

    Wow, I feel like I might slowly outgrow my aversion to cover models if they're as spectacular as this --- Ooo...this sounds so promising

  24. 5 out of 5

    Giulia Rita Herondale

    Italian review soon The candle and the flame is a very nice debut novel. The world building is intriguing, and I really appreciated the way the author talks about the djinni. I'd like to read more stories set in this world. The plot isn't deepened in some points, but the story is really interesting, in fact I couldn't stop reading. The characters I liked the most between the various pov are the main characters, Fatima and Zulfikar, but in some points they didn't convince me. Especially the developme Italian review soon The candle and the flame is a very nice debut novel. The world building is intriguing, and I really appreciated the way the author talks about the djinni. I'd like to read more stories set in this world. The plot isn't deepened in some points, but the story is really interesting, in fact I couldn't stop reading. The characters I liked the most between the various pov are the main characters, Fatima and Zulfikar, but in some points they didn't convince me. Especially the development of their relationship sometimes look a bit irrealistic, even though their scenes together are very sweet. There are also a few secondary characters I really liked,and I think they should have their own book. The writing style is fluid. The thing I appreciated the most is that the author insists on the the gender equality and on the value of women. This book impressed me very much , and that's the reason why I recommend you to read it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Tate

    This is probably the most prettiest cover I have ever seen and I seen some pretty covers in my life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    If you're ever tired of stories that all feel the same, then Nafiza Azad's debut novel, The Candle and the Flame, might be for you. Fatima inhabits a world of grand mysticism and religious culture, a land of unlimited potential held back by power struggles among the political elite. Fatima was brought up by an adopted family after her parents were killed when she was a small child. The full details don't become known to her until, at age eighteen, she is infused by the spirits of Ghazala—a decea If you're ever tired of stories that all feel the same, then Nafiza Azad's debut novel, The Candle and the Flame, might be for you. Fatima inhabits a world of grand mysticism and religious culture, a land of unlimited potential held back by power struggles among the political elite. Fatima was brought up by an adopted family after her parents were killed when she was a small child. The full details don't become known to her until, at age eighteen, she is infused by the spirits of Ghazala—a deceased Ifrit Djinni—and Firdaus, another Ifrit who has long mentored Fatima and holds the mystical title of Name Giver. Firdaus could have bequeathed the title to a member of his own family when the Shayateen Djinn murder him, but instead he pours his gift and title into Fatima Ghazala, who is overwhelmed by the sensory deluge. What will she do with these new powers? She's confused, but Fatima Ghazala promised Firdaus before he passed away that she would honor his memory, and that's a pledge she will not renege on. Fatima Ghazala's home city of Noor, run by Emir Zulfikar, has a troubled history. Adherents of all faiths populate the city in thriving harmony, but the Shayateen Djinn have been violent in the past, and some people blame all Djinn for their actions. After being filled with Ghazala's spirit, Fatima's own adopted sister, Sunaina, demands she move out of their apartment. She has no desire to share living quarters with a Djinni. Reeling from the rejection, Fatima Ghazala struggles to assimilate her new identities, and finds herself in proximity to Zulfikar. He worries that civil war is nigh as the Shayateen increase their aggressions and a secret plot takes shape to assassinate Maharajah Aarush, the king of Qirat, but Zulfikar is drawn to Fatima Ghazala's quiet confidence and unique powers. Her gifts from Ghazala and Firdaus may be key to restoring order in Noor and all of Qirat, but tapping into those gifts would require Zulfikar to get closer to Fatima Ghazala than an unmarried couple is allowed to be. When they become that close under the guise of serving king and country, will they be able to go their separate ways afterward, or is their partnership destined to blossom into love in its true form? I wanted to love The Candle and the Flame, but found it laborious. There are so many characters to keep track of, and the writing style is such that huge incidents in the story may go unnoticed at first. The richness of the world should have pulled me into a lush fantasy experience, but I felt nary a tug. There's nothing wrong with the plot; written differently, the exact same story could be a goldmine of brilliant philosophical observations, heart-stopping action, and poignant romance. As it is, the last few pages provide an emotional moment that almost pushed me to round my one-and-a-half-star rating to two. Carlos Quevedo's cover illustration for the original edition also deserves mention as a mesmerizing piece of art. The Candle and the Flame shows Nafiza Azad to be an interesting thinker with real storytelling talent, and I'd like to read her again if the opportunity presents itself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Riza

    Nafiza Azad's debut novel is, at the end of the day, a book about family. It is a pleasant reminder of how homes are made from gulab jamun shared over tea, books passed around, a loved one's laugh over the drivel of those who fail at the art of making sense, colloquies on philosophy, and sometimes, by just being. The beauty of this book lies in the way it discovers emotional sensitivity. I've grown tired of reading books that promise to give you "such a rush of emotions" and end up being a disapp Nafiza Azad's debut novel is, at the end of the day, a book about family. It is a pleasant reminder of how homes are made from gulab jamun shared over tea, books passed around, a loved one's laugh over the drivel of those who fail at the art of making sense, colloquies on philosophy, and sometimes, by just being. The beauty of this book lies in the way it discovers emotional sensitivity. I've grown tired of reading books that promise to give you "such a rush of emotions" and end up being a disappointment. I've grown tired of feeling a "rush" of emotions, period. It is far more peaceful to read about emotions building, making and unmaking you until the very end. While as for Candle, it is painting of emotions. A beautiful one. The kind you'd find behind a concealed alcove in a Mughal haveli. I love it how the author takes her time to let feelings sink into paper. Lets them wash over you and soon become every part of you. The prologue reads like a hymn of grief. I wonder if Nafiza felt her heart breaking as she wrote it, because I felt mine splinter reading it. Moving on, let's appreciate the profundity that is attached to a name in this book. Names of both people and places. (I decided I'd read this book, come what may, when I got to know that there's a place called "Rootha Rasta" in it!😭) I felt the fluidity of conversations between the characters on a.... spiritual level. Especially, with those between Fatima and her baba, Firdaus. (They talk about Al Ghazali, Khwaja Moin ud Din Chisti, the relevance of classics!) In no book, YA or otherwise, have I read characters as delightful as the Alif sisters. They are so wonderfully written. Their personalities so distinctive. Fatima's Beeji is equally special. As is Aruna. The main character, Fatima Ghazala - I saw flashes of myself in her. Not only in ways she perceives the world, but also because of how utterly Muslim she is. The way she stops doing whatever she's doing to heed to the adhan and pray. The way she feels upset about missing any namaz. The way she'll make up for it. The way she knows she is not alone because Allah is with her.And how she fears disappointing Him because of how much she loves Him. In a time where books that misrepresent Islam and Muslims are getting so hyped, a book like Candle is a relief. Alhumdulilah. The manner in which this book navigates the underside of every emotion is very appreciable. Not everyone can write a character like Sunaina and Maharajah Aarush. Bhavya also does not disappoint. The eloquence of Nafiza's words will stay with me forever. It is a breath of fresh air. So original and fresh. She has me pondering a very important question. ("What does sorrow smell like?") I don't believe in rating books anymore. But, if you were to grease my palms with extra sweet jalebi, I might say that Candle deserves all of them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mila

    3,75 stars I'm always happy to see a standalone fantasy novel because there's definitely not enough of them on the market. But this particular book could've benefited from being a duology considering how many storylines it wanted to encompass and how much worldbuilding to cover. The plot felt confusing, there were way too many characters which resulted in half of them being just props for getting from one plot point to another and the main romance was very rushed. I believe many of these issues c 3,75 stars I'm always happy to see a standalone fantasy novel because there's definitely not enough of them on the market. But this particular book could've benefited from being a duology considering how many storylines it wanted to encompass and how much worldbuilding to cover. The plot felt confusing, there were way too many characters which resulted in half of them being just props for getting from one plot point to another and the main romance was very rushed. I believe many of these issues could've been resolved by either cutting out a big chunk of this book entirely or developing the story into a duology. And don't get me wrong, despite my complaints, it was a good book, with some beautiful writing, interesting protagonists and lush, colourful atmosphere. I just see in it a lot more potential for a series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    julianna ➹

    I have a long list of regrets, and me not starting this at all is on that list. I'm so sorry, Scholastic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) The Candle and the Flame has been on one of my most anticipated list for months now. I am overjoyed I was given the chance to read this gorgeous debut before release. It's a book that celebrates female friendships, family, and the ability to change - our minds, our behaviors, our fate. Fatima has to be one of my favorite main characters - rejecting the classics, fiercely independent, a (Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) The Candle and the Flame has been on one of my most anticipated list for months now. I am overjoyed I was given the chance to read this gorgeous debut before release. It's a book that celebrates female friendships, family, and the ability to change - our minds, our behaviors, our fate. Fatima has to be one of my favorite main characters - rejecting the classics, fiercely independent, and brave - Fatima's growth in The Candle and the Flame embraces change and free choice. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

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