I got a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review from the publisher via NetGalley.
*PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SYNOPSIS AND REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK IN THE DUOLOGY*
What is it about?
The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.
As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made. (goodreads)
Book: We Free the Stars | Series: Sands of Arawiya #2 | Author: Hafsah Faizal | Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux | Release Date: 19.01.2021 | Pages: 592 | Genre: YA fantasy | Rep: brown and black people, aroace side character | TW: gore, murder, death, physical and mental abusion, loss of loved ones
What did I think?
Hoo, where shall I start? Where can I start? How do you write a review for a book that means so much to you? How can I possibly do my feelings justice with mere words? Well, I’ll try.
This book picks up right after the end of We Hunt the Flame which is good because that way we get to read everything and experience the whole story without throwbacks, which I am not a fan of at all. So it was action from the beginning. Contrary to the rather slow build up in the first book, this one was full of excitement and suspense right away. I mean, there weren’t constant fights, but it was always interesting, there were new twists and information and told in three perspectives. And there were new characters as well, and old ones that finally got the page time they deserved. I loved the pacing of the book a lot, there were fight scenes, wonderfully mixed with sweet ones, with characters bonding and with calmer ones that included planning and talking. It was such a good mix for me, a lot of action but also enough time to calm down for me inbetween (when there currently wasn’t a romantic scene that had me screaming).
I absolutely loved how the characters developed. They have all come so far since the beginning of the first book. Everyone of them is influenced by the events that happen, they change them and I really liked how this was portrayed in their actions and their whole beings. They stay true to themselves while still feeling the effects of their surroundings. I especially enjoyed their relationships with one another, the zumra as a whole but also their exchanges in pairs. I loved how the romance parts evolved but also the friendships and family relations.
I was so glad to finally see more of Lana, Zafira’s sister. She’s such a badass, never holding back with words and with a very big heart, always focused on helping people… when she’s not currently in a mood for murder. I loved her snappy comebacks and witty ideas and her love for her family and friends. And I was super happy to have more of Yasmine as well, who is angry and grieving and I could understand her so well. Nevertheless, she was still her fierce self.
One of my favourite things of the whole book was Zafira and Kifah’s friendship. They’re bound to each other by everything they’ve gone through together and they have quite a deep understanding of each other and protect each other even if they don’t always realize it. I loved their exchanges so much!
But generally I can say that I love the zumra so much. The whole lot of them, Altair with his sarcasm and innuendos and charm, Nasir in all his broodiness and soft, big heart, Kifah with her sarcasm and humor, Zafira with her fierce determination. And Benyamin, I miss him.
I liked We Free the Stars even more than We Hunt the Flame, it was equally beautifully written, with a lot of descriptions and metaphors. But it had more action and the characters already knew each other and me them. It made it easier to connect with everything. It was also much more fast-paced. I loved this book so, so much and I really don’t want to step out of this world yet. There is so much more to explore and I’d love to do so.