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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, Noor 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, Noor 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?<br /><br />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 *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. 4 out of 5

    Angelica

    <b>Hey y'all, it's your girl, back again with another conflicting book review. You know, the usual.</b><br /><br />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?<br /><br /><b>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</b> 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 quite 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

    <b>IT'S ARRIVED!!!</b><br><br><img src="https://images.gr-assets.com/hostedimages/1447371411ra/16994621.gif" class="gr-hostedUserImg"><br><br>I want this cover as an art print on my wall.<br><br>My goddess.<br>It's gorgeous!!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Acqua

    <b><i>The Candle and the Flame</i> is unlike every other YA fantasy novel I've read, and I love it for that.</b><br />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.<br /><br />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 <b>omniscient narration in third person present, very jarring at first, but which I started to see</b> 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. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    <i>The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too.</i><br /><br />...<br /><br />My grief is of a different kind, gentle reader, for I was highly anticipating <i>The Candle and the Flame</i>, with it's desert fantasy setting, feminist themes, and promise of magic. <b>And now I'm bitterly disappointed.</b> Today we're mourning the very last time I ever gave a shit.<br /><br />*shakes fist*<br /><br />I just. UGH. I wanted to love Nafiza Azad's debut <b>so much.</b> I mean, <i>look</i> at that cover! I weep from its beauty. “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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    may ➹

    <b>3.5 stars</b><br /><br /><blockquote> <b> WHAT I LIKED</b></blockquote><br /> <b>I adored the main character</b>, 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!<br /><br /> <b>The themes of empowerment, specifically female empowerment</b>, were so amazing? In this world, theres a lot of misogyny, but its always called out, and seeing all the women in this book be so strong and fierce was 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    may ❀

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

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    Yet another disappointment of 2019.<br /><br />This story just didnt stick in my mind, or really make any sort of coherent sense within the story that was being forcibly told.<br /><br />The writing was so bland. The world building was good, but the characters were so one dimensional I couldnt invest in any of them.<br /><br />Honestly I couldnt detail much of the plot. Apart from our protagonists skill set and development (debatable) the rest just seemed to be thrown in like a wild game of Tetris.<br /><br />I need to stop beautiful covers persuading 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hartman

    I blurbed this book, and it is certifiably delightful! <br /><br />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). 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

    Tomoe Hotaru

    <u> <b>16 Sep. '19</b></u><br>How can something so mind-numbingly underwhelming receive such overwhelming praise?<br><br>If you want receipts, check my reading progress down below.<br><br>The entire background surrounding this book would have made it <i>so easy</i> for me to fall in love with it. Islamic-inspired mythology? A Muslim female protagonist as its central lead? An <i>own-voices</i> publication, no less? It all promised something unique, refreshing, in the saturated world of YA Fantasy, and I was rooting for it <i>so much</i>.<br><br><img src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/hostedimages/1568661048i/28157186._SX540_.jpg" class="gr-hostedUserImg"><br><i> <a href="https://www.deviantart.com/lathander1987/art/Papua-Oasis-347065428" rel="nofollow">[ source ]</a></i><br><br>This 16 Sep. '19 How can something so mind-numbingly underwhelming receive such overwhelming praise? If you want receipts, check my reading progress down below. The entire background surrounding this book would have made it so easy for me to fall in love with it. Islamic-inspired mythology? A Muslim female protagonist as its central lead? An own-voices publication, no less? It all promised something unique, refreshing, in the saturated world of YA Fantasy, and I was rooting for it so much. [ source ] This might be an unfair assessment, but I feel like the love and excitement for a diverse, #OwnVoices narrative might have contributed to the 4-point-something average star rating this book (currently) has; made us more lenient towards this novel's shortcomings . I certainly was more forgiving. At least, in the beginning. If I was not blinded by the multicultural, non-Euro-centric atmosphere The Candle and the Flame dangled in front of me--if this had been any other book--I would have dropped it out of sheer boredom after the first 30%. But I recognise that this is the author's first published novel, and I think she does have potential to refine her craft, so I will start this review with the things I did like about The Candle and the Flame. 💜 The portrayal of female characters' relationships with each other This was a definite positive, and a much needed break from all the girl-on-girl hate that you so often see in YA. In The Candle and the Flame, female characters whom had their sights on the same man were not made by the author to sabotage each other, speak or behave ill of one another, and all the other catty behaviour that would stereotypically be the norm in YA Romantasy. I quite liked Fatima's relationship with the Alif sisters and with her own adoptive sister. I appreciated that they were able to move past their estrangement and reconcile; going through ups and downs like any real sibling- and familial dynamic would. 💜 The usage of South-Asian and Middle-Eastern religions These were not the only cultures existing in Noor, but they were the predominant ones. I feel like this alone deserves some acknowledgement, because I do appreciate more diversity popping up in mainstream fantasy novels, especially represented not as a sidenote or backdrop, but as a major part of the narrative. Sadly, beyond those two, I have no more praise to give. From here on out, my review will get harsh, and some plot points will be discussed, though I will try to refrain from spoiling the important details. 🞺 WORLDBUILDING 🞺 This was a real miss for me. The setting takes place in Noor, a city located along the Silk Road. That alone was potential for a great many things. The intrigues of trade; its effects on politics, intellectual and cultural exchange; how it changes technology and local landscapes . . . Never mind reading about any of that, beyond the first chapter where Fatima buys flowers from a merchant, we neither see nor learn anything about the setting that was in any way related to their strategic position as a Silk-Road-City. The plot and everything that took place had squat all to do with the Silk Road. Nothing! Noor could have existed anywhere in the world; the only reason the author decided to establish it as being a part of the Silk Road was to (1) Make it sound cool and hence a selling point for the Elevator Pitch, and (2) Have an excuse as to why the place is a "melting pot" of cultures and religions. In terms of the cultures and religions itself . . . I know I said I love more diversity in books, but the way things were handled here was just wanting. Obviously you don't need to have a reason to have diverse cultures in your story, for the sheer fact that diversity exists and should thus be reflected--however, it just got to the extent where it all seemed gimmicky. Fly-away mentions of the Kinh and Hanh and Uyghur and Kmemu (I assume Khememu? as in Ancient Egyptians?) on top of the main protagonist speaking Arabic, Hindi, and Urdu . . . but none of the peoples above, nor their cultures, has any actual bearing on the plot or progression itself. They were simply "spices" to fill up the author's world, which is honestly why I don't understand the praise for the worldbuilding in The Candle and the Flame. What is there to praise when the author did nothing other than mention that these cultures and peoples exist? That is not creative, not transcendental, not anything other than lifting existing things and putting it smack-dab into the background of your supposed "fantasy/fictional" world. If anything, that is only lazy. What wasted opportunity. The world could have been expanded upon to reflect how the existence of djinn affects this version of earth. I mean, clearly the setting takes place in a version of earth--as all our religions, peoples, cultures, seem to exist there--except an earth that is populated with these fiery beings. How does that affect religion? How does that affect technology? politics? governance? How is it that cultures can remain misogynistic (the characters themselves are the ones who stated explicitly that their traditions are misogynistic, not me), when the ifrit--arguably the most powerful of djinn-kind--are a matriarchal society? But other than copy+pasting names of ethnic groups and languages, the author did nothing else to expand and build upon her world. The last thing I'll say about worldbuilding: It's not the author's job to teach you about Islam/Hinduism/Buddhism/etc. and in this novel, she is clearly writing for readers of the characters' own cultural identity. People who are already familiar with much of the terms, references used in the story. That's not to say others won't or can't enjoy it--but they will have a harder time following, because the author does not provide any, or very minimum, contextual clues in her text. You will either have to google, or flip back-and-forth between the glossary at the end. An exercise that absolutely, whether you want to admit it or not, breaks your reading experience and makes it harder to immerse yourself in the world and story itself. I live in the literally-Hindu-majority island of the literally-number-one-country-in-the-world with the highest Muslim population, making me very much familiar with both Hindu and Muslim mythology, cultures, and contentions . . . and I understood at most 75% of all the terms thrown into the book. The problem with providing no context in the body of the prose itself, especially when you're setting real-life cultures in a fantasy novel, is that it's incredibly easy for layman readers to muddle up between culture A and culture B and culture C; interpreting it all as one giant, singular monolith of Culture Z. 🞺 WRITING 🞺 The prose is one of those that tries to be deep and poetic, but sadly falls short. Suffice to say, I didn't find it appealing. The narrative was dry, almost mechanical, evoking no emotion unless you're a reader who can find emotion in reading pretty words that actually mean nothing. I, unfortunately, do not have that gift. If you want pretty prose that works, a slow-burning drama filled with a hint of romance and imbued with diverse middle-eastern and Jewish mythology, The Golemn and the Jinni , also a debut novel, did it thousandfolds better. A slow-burning drama needs the force of characters to make it work, needs a sense of wonder, an emotional attachment. None of these were apparent in The Candle and the Flame. This book also contained perhaps the worst chapter- and scene openings I have ever read. All chapters opened up in the exact same manner, exact same tone and approach: That dry, pseudo-poetic, attempting-to-be-deep-and-meaningful paragraph, that is only forcefully made to tie in to the rest of the scene. There is nothing gripping, nothing that evokes excitement. Speaking of forced--the dialogue is also often forced, written in such a way as to add dramatic effect rather than any actual meaning. Here's one example: Yes, you are supposed to take her word for it, otherwise why the fuck would you ask her in the first place? But the biggest problem by far that I had with the writing, is how utterly, PAINFULLY, unsubtle and clumsy it was. The messages were driven into our skulls with the force and noise of a road drill. How many times do I have to read that women are not objects? Here is but a few. * * * No, do not make me read this again! Once or twice would've been fine, but this is constantly bashed over our heads, it's become nothing but preachy. What is actually an important message becomes a gimmick, a parody of itself. Especially when it's coupled with the fact that characters often snap and react this way to things that are only marginally or aren't even offensive at all; for example when the princess (rajkumari) Bhavya, as Sunaina's future employer, states that she needs to buy her a new set of clothes. But, of course, when it comes to the objectification of women (daughters, particularly) as part of a religious tradition? Not a single complaint in the text--subtle or otherwise: Hint: Asking for a father's "permission" for marriage is also an objectification of women. This is not the only message that we're hammered over the head with. But I need to get to my final point. 🞺 PLOT 🞺 To summarise, this book tells the tale of Fatima--a twice-survivor of indiscriminate shayateen (singular: shaitan) attacks--first as a child of four years when her entire travelling caravan was slaughtered, and again at the age of ten, when the city of Noor was attacked, leaving only three survivors. The story truly begins when Fatima is eighteen years of age, living with her adoptive sister, Sunaina, and working as a messenger by day. Her life changes completely, however, when she delivers a book to one of her closest friend and mentor, Firdaus. The book corrupts him, and he crumples into ash; but not before bestowing his Fire into Fatima. It turns out that Firdaus was not a mere bookstore proprietor; he had also been the Name-Giver for the ifrit clan. Djinn can only materialise into the physical, human world after they are Named--and now with Firdaus dead, the mantle has been passed on to Fatima. But beyond Fatima's own personal struggles, there is also the looming threat of civil war, increasing shayeetan and ghul attacks, and of course, the question of who orchestrated the Name-Giver's death. While all that sounds absolutely fine on paper, what actually transpired was far less exciting. There are virtually no action scenes, the conflict is resolved within a single paragraph, and I should also add that everyone involved--everyone! is an utter moron. The pacing was completely off. If you think we'd be investigating Firdaus's death, you'd think wrong. If you think the story even picks up from there, you'd also be wrong. In fact, every significant turn of events is treated with casual disregard. Moments after Fatima discovers Firdaus is dead, she asks for dessert. Moments after finding Laali literally on her death bed, Fatima goes on a tour of the city. It just completely undermines any tension, any gravitas we might otherwise have put on these scenes. I won't even go into how infinitely predictable the entire storyline, including both major and minor villains, were. Let's talk about the rebels. Guess how this plotline was resolved? How their ultimate plot towards the end of the novel was resolved? Sunaina overheard these dumbass fools talking about it down the hallway just outside her door! This, by the way, takes place in the palace itself. I shit you not. They're talking about murdering the king, in the king's home, loud enough for people behind closed doors to hear. Judging by the sheer idiocy of these rebels, it's a wonder why the maharajah hasn't done anything about them a long time ago. You know, nip the budding rebellion in the bud before it could ever grow. Answer: Contrived plot device, that's why. There is no active engagement or effort on any of our characters' part in order to resolve or discover anything. This is how literally everything is solved. Let's talk about the shayateen. How is that threat averted? What you should know about the shayateen (and this is not a spoiler, as it's told much early on) is that they have been cursed and can't return to their djinn-form, hence are stuck on earth. So these dumbasses decides to invite Fatima (Oh, sorry, Fatima GHAZALA) to their lair, bribing her by promising they would not attack Noor if she Unnames them all, hence reverting them to their djinn form and they would then be able to return home. This, I should note, despite them being fully aware that Fatima GHAZALA is not only capable of Unnaming djinn-kin, but also once they are Unnamed, she is able to destroy their Names, and by extension, their very existence. So, guess what Fatima GHAZALA does? I don't need to give you the spoiler answer, because OF COURSE THAT'S WHAT SHE DOES because anyone with half a brain would absolutely know where this would go. It seems, however, that the shayateen have exactly zero brain cells. Or the author simply could not think of a clever, or at least believable, conflict resolution. My final word is this: This book is romantasy. Don't go into it expecting action, adventure, or even fun. It pretends to be deeper than it is, but all the beats--instalove, villains (multiple!) making sexual threats against the protagonist, main character being able to master everything without even trying--they are all the same as you would expect in any YA Romantasy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    ♡ Half Blood Prince ♡

    Everyone. In this book. Is a complete, and utter, useless. moron.<br /><br />Main Characters? Moron.<br />Royal family? Moron.<br />Rebels? Moron.<br />Antagonistic djinn-clann? <b>Morons!!!</b><br /><br />They could've all been replaced with a collective sack of potatoes for all the contribution they made to the plot. They'd have just as much driving force, after all.<br /><br />so i decided to go on ahead and read this book despite <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2804157351" rel="nofollow">warnings from my friend</a>, mainly because of all the other people who told me how <i>different</i> and <i>diverse</i> this book is.<br /><br /><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2983937207" rel="nofollow">this review</a> Everyone. In this book. Is a complete, and utter, useless. moron. Main Characters? Moron. Royal family? Moron. Rebels? Moron. Antagonistic djinn-clann? Morons!!! They could've all been replaced with a collective sack of potatoes for all the contribution they made to the plot. They'd have just as much driving force, after all. so i decided to go on ahead and read this book despite warnings from my friend, mainly because of all the other people who told me how different and diverse this book is. this review says all there needs to be said about the religion angle, and why the world building fell completely on its face. to summarise; diversity was just there, like a spice that's sprinkled on top of your chicken after it's cooked, but not left to marinate or penetrate through the skin and into the meat of things. where religion, an amalgamation of multiple cultures and faiths, could've been used as an opportunity to show how it affects politics and government, inter-community tensions and resolutions, dynamics between groups of people---and all the other subtle subtexts of communal living---was unfortunately never utilised other than as window dressing to market the book to the representation-hungry crowd. the two reviews above already talked about that in more depth, so i wanna give my two cents about the story/content of the book itself. inb4: ohh hurr hurr, someone who can't even capitalise "i" is gonna give a negative review of a professionally published book? hurrdy hurr hurr yeah that's right bishes, i'ma be as grammatically uncorrect as i wanna be, cause like u said, this is a random review on a random website written by a random loser. not a professionally published book. So the thing that really determined this as (for me) a two-star read is mainly because this book has nothing going on for it. Not saying that just to be rude, I mean that quite literally. There's no goal, no sense of urgency, nothing that really drives the plot forwards? This is made clear to us from earlier on in the book, when a very important character (by important, I mean that they play an important role to the ifrit's very existence) mysteriously dies, you would think that at least part of the book would be trying to discover who was behind the plot, and on catching the perpetrators. When there's a djinn attack during a public festival, you'd think that part of the book would be dedicated to uncovering and chasing down the rest of these attackers, figuring out their motives and any other sinister plots behind the attack. When we're constantly told about a brewing rebellion, you'd think a decent amount of time would be spent on our main characters trying to quell this rebellion? finding out more about them? no, no, and nopers. Never mind investigating any of that shit, the pace doesn't even pick up from any of those (what you would've assumed to be) instigating incidents. when anything of importance does occur, it occurs off-page, and by people who are not our main character(s). for instance, the death of the important character i mentioned above---investigations about it was conducted by the person that we, the readers, already know is a villain (but ofc our daft protagonists do not), and we only hear like, a summary of the "investigation" in a single sentence as Main Character A summarises the non-findings to Main Character B. The rebellion side-plot was left to simmer in the background, with literally none---zero, squilch, nada---of our main characters or book chapters spending time on rooting them out. i mean, it kinda makes me hope the rebels would win and kill all these dumb fools. When the "truth" of the rebellion was finally uncovered, it was not through active investigation or clever political maneuverings, it was through two things: (1) One of our Main Characters literally overhears rebels talking about their plot. in the palace grounds. plotting to kill the king. talking out loud. loudly. loud enough for MC to hear. fuck you. (2) Our Main Main Character has everything told to her by the antagonist djinn clan. yeah, just straight up told to her. so if anyone tries to tell me this book contains a decent plot, climax, and resolution..... no. i don't even know how this counts as a book, other than because poor trees were felled to print out its pages. The resolution itself was equally as bland. Equally as devoid of any intellect, foreshadowing, planning, excitement, entertainment... I could go on. pls stop me. Our characters didn't have to go through the trouble of being clever, resourceful, brave, or even strong, because it doesn't matter. There is no culmination of events that leads to the climax; it just happened. Our character is literally---not figuratively---lit-er-al-ly plucked into enemy territory, by the enemy, where everything is expositioned for her, and she is given the opportunity to kill them off. It was concluded within, I wanna say, three paragraphs? and it was only made possible because our antagonist djinn clan is---believe it or not---even more of a dumbass than the entire royal family. Yes, even more dumb than the royal family who let a rebellion go unchecked, who only survived because a main character conveniently overheard the whole plot. Hence my moron rant topping this review. If you want the spoilery details of what specifically happened, you can read it towards the end of this review that i already linked before. You can't even summarise the plot as Fatima's journey into becoming the next Name-Giver, because, uhh, it was not a journey? we didn't even see her like, learning, practicing her new-found abilities? She just kinda got good at it? There were two scenes, perhaps three if I'm being generous, of her Naming an ifrit into life---in one of those scenes she failed, btw---and then suddenly she was so good at the whole Naming thing that she could do what she did in the climax. and please do not get me started on the irritant that is reading Fatima Ghazala every single time ever since she became the new Name-Giver. Even characters calling her by her name, calls her Fatima Ghazala every-single-time. it got so exhausting. Even Mary Jane was decent enough to accept "MJ" as a diminutive. Her character actually started off strong and full of potential, but actually went to the gutters with the Fatima Ghazala development. She became inconsistent, unclear, just a vague monolith of a once-character. Tell me just one thing, one defining, unique characteristic of Fatima Ghazala? Not something generic, like, She's a hard worker ... and not something obvious, like She hates being called Fatima. It's Fatima GHAZALA! ... nor something loaded with authorial agenda, like She's a feminist. Go on, I'll wait. No? ok. two stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Suri

    Main reason why I didn't enjoy this book is because I had completely a different expectation. Young adult romance is actually a genre I like, but for some reason I really wasn't expecting it or looking for it when I bought this book (there goes two weeks of groceries). I bought this book even though ordering English books online is SOOOO expensive, because it has Muslim rep! So cool, right? Especially in fantasy genre, which is my favorite.<br /><br />Before I continue with the review, I want to apologize about Main reason why I didn't enjoy this book is because I had completely a different expectation. Young adult romance is actually a genre I like, but for some reason I really wasn't expecting it or looking for it when I bought this book (there goes two weeks of groceries). I bought this book even though ordering English books online is SOOOO expensive, because it has Muslim rep! So cool, right? Especially in fantasy genre, which is my favorite. Before I continue with the review, I want to apologize about my grammar because English is not my first language. Maybe that also make me miss some important details or parts that should have made me enjoy this book more. Although I don't think that's the case, please do let me know in the comments if I understood some plot points or explanations wrong. I'm sorry if this kind of sounds offensive... it's a bit hard to explain. Of course not all people are the same, but even though indeed this book was Muslim rep (and many other religions to be clear), I still didn't connect with how the characters behave, think, their jokes, their dialogues, their interactions... I guess, at the end of the day, it's a very Western representation of Islam. It's not a bad thing don't get me wrong, because there are lots of Western Muslims who will (I guess) connect with the characters. And of course also in my country there are lots of Muslim girls who would (I guess) connect with these characters... especially the more Westernized girls (ha ha). I don't mean that as insult--I am also WAY more Westernized than a majority of my fellow Muslim friends. I mean, helloooo, I read paranormal romance English books. Most of my friends only read non-fiction, self-improvement and/or spiritual books. I dated several men since uni, most Muslim (female) friends date once with the intention of getting married to that person. Many even skip the whole dating and go straight to marriage. I am still, close to the age of 30, not married. Most people here? Married at early 20's and by now already have at least 1-2 kids. For example, there are scenes in the book where the sisters will be sleeping over at Fatima Ghazala's place. Gosh, I don't know any father here who'd let their daughter sleep over at a friend's house without female adult supervision. Or earlier on when the girls go to the festival and are talking about boys? OK, I'm not stupid. Of course there are strict Muslims who pray five times a day, adhere to fasting every Ramadan, etc. who still wears make-up and dresses up and talks so openly flirtatious about boys, making "naughty" jokes that are their "halal version" of porno-talk (as one of the characters put it, to paraphrase)...... But where I'm from, most girls who are (truly) strict and devout, are also very modest. They'd blush at such talk. When they go out on dates, depending on their interpretation of Islam, many don't even hold hands--let alone ride a horse together! But that's not even the problem with this book. Here's the problem. There's so many stripes and colors to how people practice religion, including Islam. There are moderates... who fast, pray, don't eat pork or drink alcohol (sometimes some do)... There are "Islam KTP", who only says they're Muslim but virtually don't practice--they drink, have sex outside marriage, though OK, maybe some of them still do fast and pray... So I was disappointed that the rep in this book was sooooo simple. It didn't dive into the different stripes of religious practice, the characters didn't show any of these layers... they all came across as the same, and a Westernized sameness, even--if that makes sense. Example, to make my point clearer? There's lots about the world that could've been deeper, used as opportunity to analyze religion more meaningfully. For example, depends on who you listen to, but djinn-and-human-relationship is considered haram (the most widely accepted interpretation), but some Ulamas have argued that it can be accepted, or at least claims there's no text banning it. The book could have used Fatima Ghazala + Zulfikar's "relatioship" to explore the meaning of religion, interpretation, how to balance between religious doctrine and personal choice and acceptance, etc. but completely skipped this. I think there's only few lines about how djinns shouldn't be in romantic relations with humans? but then Zulfikar did anyway, and what was the consequence? how was it explained? Because Fatima Ghazala had "ifrit fire" inside her? so? She's still human anyway, so why does it change anything? None of my questions were explored at all and it just totally annoyed me. The world, especially the religious representation is so so so very shallow... and the storyline wasn't interesting enough to make up for it. This other review talked about world and plot, which sums up my feelings, too. Wow, this is my LONGEST review ever. But yeah, I got this book for Muslim fantasy rep, not for another Western paranormal romance, so forgive me for being 10000x disappointed.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fafa's Book Corner

    <a href="https://fafasbookcorner.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/review-the-candle-and-the-flame/" rel="nofollow"> Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner! </a><br /><br />Beware spoilers ahead!<br /><br />Trigger warning: Grief<br /><br />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.<br /><br />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 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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary S. R.

    <i>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.</i><br /><br />A magical book set along the Silk Road based on Middle-Eastern myths? WOW.<br />I LOVE how <b>diverse</b> fantasy books are becoming! Personally that's one of my fave things about the genre: how it can <b>embrace and explore such different cultures and still keep true to their beauty and origins </b><br /><br /><i>However, the city bears scars of its recent past,</i> 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!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Vicky Who Reads

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

  17. 4 out of 5

    julia ♥

    <b>read the full review <a>on my blog: here </a></b><br /><br /><i>"The desert sings of loss, always loss, <br />and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, <br />it will grieve you too."</i><br /><br />Ever since laying eyes on this over-the-top GORGEOUS cover, I've been in love with this book. <i>The Candle and the Flame</i> 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!

  18. 4 out of 5

    ʙᴇʟʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。.

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)<br /><br />DNF at 40%<br /><br />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:<br />- Intricate Multicultural Universe<br />- Diversity<br />- Lush sceneries<br />- Amazing Female Friendships<br />- Women Empowerment<br />- DJINNS, I mean, who doesn't like DJINNS?<br />- And that lovely cover.<br />But unfortunately, it was really hard to stay focused. <br />There were too many POV's, too 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!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer

    <img src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/hostedimages/1553050953i/27234671._SX540_.png" width="400" height="127" alt="description" class="gr-hostedUserImg"> <br><i>Check out more reviews @ <a href="https://perspectiveofawriter.com/category/book-reviews/" rel="nofollow">Perspective of a Writer</a>...</i><br><br><br><b>The Buzz</b><br><br>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!<br><br><br><b>The Premise</b><br><br>We start The Candle and the Flame on the Silk Road and find our way to the city of Noor. What an incredible description 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!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sahitya

    Its probably more of a 3.75 but Im rounding up. <br /><br />I really didnt know much about this book and I only became interested because of that gorgeous cover and the vague idea that its based on Muslim culture. But what happened between the pages of this really surprised me and I can say confidently that its been a while since that has happened in a YA fantasy.<br /><br />Im not usually someone who looks for atmospheric world building but am more satisfied by extensive magic systems, but this world of Noor really blew 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.

  21. 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.<br /><br />*Buddy read with Rendz! <a target="_blank" href="https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/61510275-rendz" rel="nofollow">https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6...</a><br /><br />I have never before read a story where the main characters life is so routinely divided by adhaans and their subsequent prayers. All those halal romance jokes and complaints about rishta ettiquete were hilarious. Ive read 2 other books/series this year with Muslim characters but the other *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 !!

  22. 5 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 desert 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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Khadidja ~on hiatus~

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

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 3 stars<br /><br />Don't let this rating fool you! I like most things about this book. <br /><br /><b>The setting + the rep</b>: A Silk Road setting??? In my YAs??? <b>Legendary</b> 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 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    <img src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/hostedimages/1557860044i/27507555._SX540_.jpg" alt="The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad Bookstagram photo.jpeg" width="400" height="395" class="gr-hostedUserImg"><br><br><b>You can also read my review here:</b> <a target="_blank" href="https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress.com/2019/05/14/the-candle-and-the-flame-by-nafiza-azad-arc-review/" rel="nofollow">https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....</a><br><br><u>The Candle and the Flame</u> 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 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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shaimaa

    <i>"No matter how short our hours are or how swiftly time flees, there is life."</i><br /><br />I really wanted to like this book more than I did. But it felt like it had more potential and that Nafiza Azad could give more. I'm glad for the representation and what she and the other Muslim authors are doing, especially in 2019. I'm proud of them and happy for them. They are achieving milestones. <br /><br />The plot is great, the characters are good, but they I did not fell very attached to them and the characters' developments "No matter how short our hours are or how swiftly time flees, there is life." I really wanted to like this book more than I did. But it felt like it had more potential and that Nafiza Azad could give more. I'm glad for the representation and what she and the other Muslim authors are doing, especially in 2019. I'm proud of them and happy for them. They are achieving milestones. The plot is great, the characters are good, but they I did not fell very attached to them and the characters' developments did not feel like a big deal. Something here was not for me. Maybe it was the pace of the narration. Like unnecessary stuff took too long and necessary stuff happened too fast for my taste.

  27. 4 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 <br />---<br />Ooo...this sounds so promising

  28. 5 out of 5

    steph ♥

    And so the cycle of disappointing, mediocre YA fantasies continues. Yep.

  29. 5 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

    Giulia Rita Herondale

    Italian review soon<br /><br />The candle and the flame is a very nice debut novel.<br />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.<br />The plot isn't deepened in some points, but the story is really interesting, in fact I couldn't stop reading.<br />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 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.

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