August 10, 2022

We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya Duology Book 2) by Hafsah Faizal

We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya Duology Book 2) by Hafsah Faizal
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Format: Audiobook (library)
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux

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I recently finished We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, so I was pretty excited to be able to jump straight into We Free the Stars. Ms. Faizal completely blew all of my expectations for the sequel out of the water (in a good way). So much happened in the first book that I probably would have benefited from a reread prior to starting this one, but I didn’t have too many issues remembering what happened in the first book (and thus following the storyline of this one). 

The worldbuilding in this book was excellent. Some authors suffer from plot holes and inconsistencies when they dream up worlds as big as this, but that didn’t seem to be an issue for Ms. Faizal or the kingdom of Arawiya. Everything was fleshed out and well-developed. I appreciate how the Arabian inspiration for the setting and the diverse characters made the book feel rich with cultural representation. Simply put, Ms. Faizal’s writing is beautiful and emotionally evocative. She did a fantastic job both painting a picture and stirring up a specific emotion. I don’t think I’ve seen another author pull this off quite as well in any of my recent reads. 

We Free the Stars features the same cast of characters that readers connected to and couldn’t help but root for in We Hunt the Flame. I love seeing a character grow over the course of multiple books, and the author delivered in that regard. In my opinion, Nasir was the character with the most growth in the story. One particularly poignant quote that I connected to is this: Prince of Death, Demenhune Hunter. Titles don’t tell you who a person is.”

This is a slow-burn romance at its finest. The tension that Ms. Faizal created between our main characters was *chef’s kiss* amazing. There were so many moments where I was shaking my book and yelling, “Why won’t you kiss already and admit your feelings?”. At this point, the author could deliver a master class on crafting slow-burn young adult romance and I would happily sign up. I mean, take a look at this quote for goodness sake; “I am falling in love with you, and I don’t know how to stop.” Slow-burn romance at its finest, my friends.

Fiona Hardingham and Steve West did another amazing job with the audiobook narration and their individual performances. If you have a chance to listen to the audiobook, I would definitely recommend doing so. There are a couple of minor issues here and there with the editing, but nothing too distracting. 

Overall, We Free the Stars was a worthy and powerful successor to We Hunt the Flame. I’m eager to read whatever Ms. Faizal writes in the future (though I’m especially eager to read her next release, A Tempest of Tea, which shares a universe with the Sands of Arawiya duology). 

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Abandonment, Self-Depreciation, Death, Disfigurement

About the Author

Hafsah Faizal is the New York Times bestselling author of WE HUNT THE FLAME and WE FREE THE STARS. She’s the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. When she’s not writing, she can be found dreaming up her next design, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with a library of books waiting to be devoured.

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