My Rating: 4 Stars
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.
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.