The publisher, Scholastic Trade Publishing, kindly offered me an advanced reader copy (ARC) of The Candle and The Flame by Nafiza Azad via Edelweiss+. Yet, this is an honest review of the book expressing my humble opinion.
The Candle and The Flame is a truly beautiful and earth-shattering book that changed my life.
I love the city of Noor and how inclusive it is. Myriad languages and cultures all living in one beautiful city that became their sanctuary.
I adore Fatima and Zulfikar. One of the most wonderful and perfect pairing I’ve seen in a long time. Fatima is so strong and real. You can’t help but love and root for her. Zulfikar is that constant strength who only gets stronger and more endearing throughout the book.
Something I particularly loved is how the author infuses Islamic mythology and Arabic folklore with her story. I love the stories of the djinn and Ifrit, and how the author has built matriarchal societies for those beautiful beings. Yes, I’m a big fan of Ifrit. Give me Ifrit, and I’ll buy the book. Anyway, I loved how she weaved every detail into this large and magnificent world. I also loved how the author takes and twists certain tropes and how some “annoying” characters got a remarkable redemption arc while others faced the harsh reality.
I especially loved how the author raises feminist themes. I read on Goodreads that the author said the book is “mostly about women being women in the most fantastic ways possible” and that is so true. The fantastical beings have a matriarchal hierarchy, while in the human world, they can’t be an heir to the throne, for example. But the author treats it with such respect and at the same time anger that it makes you feel like you’re one of the women in Noor facing the injustice.
I’ve used the word “love” many times, but honestly, I just love this book so much. Even though I felt like the beginning was a bit slow, the writing is superb and the world-building takes your breath away. I sincerely wish we can travel back to Noor in the future in some way, because these characters will never leave me. This book is a true beauty, a gem among books. Five stars are not enough.
5 stars – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Nafiza Azad
Publisher: Scholastic Trade Publishing