We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal
Publication Date: January 19th, 2020
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.
I received this eARC from Hafsah as well as from FierceReads. This review is absolutely honest and unbiased (but just a little biased strictly because I’m obsessed with this duology and it means so much to me but not because I got the book early).
Trigger Warnings: blood, violence, gore
I mean like this should be obvious but I guess just in case you don’t know, this duology means the world to me for a lot of reasons and so this is just me gushing and screaming BUT here I go trying to write a review AAAHHH.
I read this way back in May and the fact that it still has me feeling all kinds of feelings is truly a testament to how much this book absolutely broke me. Arawiya truly is my home and I will never be over it.
While WHTF sets the stage and starts off slowly and builds up to the climax, WFTS doesn’t hold back. It picks up almost immediately after the events of the first book and I just remember being absolutely hooked from beginning to end. Since the world is already built and the characters are already established, this is more focused on completing the story (obviously, as you can see I’m struggling to just not scream). Basically, what I’m trying to say is this just dives right in and things ARE HAPPENING.
I loved the darkness of the first book, but oh my goodness this one went darker and I was here for EVERY SECOND. Also ALSO!!!! THE TENSION. THE ANGST. THE MURDER?! THE PAINNNN.
I made video reactions (which at this moment, while I’m writing this review, remains unedited) and I’m just as incoherent talking about this book as I am typing about it here. I truly don’t even know how to properly express how much this book shocked me?! There was so much to unpack and the way Hafsah unraveled the story just truly gave me a rollercoaster of emotions.
While one part of me was absolutely living the best time of her life with little tidbits of happiness, the other part of me was screaming because I knew pain was right around the corner. This was a much faster paced book (and not just because I devoured it) and still maintained the character-based fantasy that I just absolutely love. Hafsah just does such a great job bringing these characters to life and developing them so beautifully! I know the first book did a great job creating this beautiful cast of characters, but getting to dive deeper into them this time was such a different and richer experience!
I’D ALSO LIKE TO JUST TALK ABOUT THE FORESHADOWING. I read WHTF right after finishing WFTS because I know there was just so much that I had probably forgotten or had not thought about and bOY WAS I CORRECT. Half of the tabs in my book are me realizing how things in the first book were directly related to events in the second. They’re such tiny seeds that only make sense when you’ve finished the story and that’s just so mind blowing to me!
OKAY OKAY Back to the book even though I’m sure this review makes zero sense to anyone but me: I AM SO HAPPY WE GOT TO SEE MORE YASMINE AND LANA AND KIFAH BEING THE QUEEN THAT SHE IS I LOVE THEM. Also, the newer characters!!!! They were so interesting and I just really loved exploring the different facets of light and dark and that whole inner turmoil! (did any of this actually make any sense?)
If you enjoyed the first book, there’s no doubt in my mind that you will definitely love this book. The story really wrapped up in a way that had me feeling full and empty all at once. I’m devastated that the story is over, but at peace because the journey is over. What I would GIVE FOR MORE ARAWIYA THOUGH (I’d give my heart and soul for maybe a spinoff or something *Macmillan please I beg*). I don’t think it could have been a better ending.
Also though: The last line?! PERFECTION. I’m sad to see it go, but happy that it happened?! Now, as someone who has written detailed commentary in my copy, I know there were little fangirl things I wanted to see and got my hopes up about and yet, I was still incredibly satisfied with the way this story went, whether I got some things or didn’t.
Anyway, I know I could just keep talking about this book for forever but now all the thoughts I have are spoilery so I guess I’m just going to have to make a spoiler filled one sometime!