In arc review

REVIEW: Candle and the Flame

Title: The Candle and the Flame
Author: Nafiza Azad
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy
Release: May 14th, 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"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!

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