There’s nothing I love more than Asian fantasy!!
(Asian FOOD is the only exception I’ll make—and this book has that as well.)
Today I’m here with a list of all the things I loved (and the few things I didn’t) about The Candle and the Flame!! I first heard of this book months ago and knew I had to read it. It sounded amazing from the start (djinn! Silk Road! magic!), and then the gorgeous cover was released, and my excitement for it increased tenfold.
I genuinely mean it when I say that if my review doesn’t manage to convince you to pick this up, the cover will, because LOOK AT IT.
Nafiza Azad || May 14, 2019
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.
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.
- 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.)
- 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.
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.
⇒ check out a quick overview of my thoughts in the graphic below!
:: 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
are you planning on reading this book? have you read any other silk road-inspired books? and what are some of your favorite asian fantasies???