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Nafiza Azad Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Candle and the Flame (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Nafiza Azad is a Fiji born Canadian author of young adult and fantasy books. Although born in Fiji, Nafiza spent her first seventeen years as a professed Pacific Islander. Her frequent travels have seen her develop a deep love for different languages, and she now speaks four. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a master’s degree in Children’s Literature. She became a published author in 2019 when her debut novel The Candle and the Flame was published.

The Candle and the Flame

A decade and a half ago, heartbroken djinn drawn to order named Ifrit found a young girl dying in the desert. The djinn saved the dying girl by giving up hers. Eight years ago, a gang of djinn drawn to chaos named Shayateen attacked Noor city and killed hundreds if not thousands, only two young girls and an older woman survived the attack. Fast forward present day we find the city of Noor thriving again, thanks to the alliance between the Ifrit and the humans. However, the future is uncertain. Undead monsters ghouls attack citizens), and Shayateen and an uprising is forming.

Amid these entire crises is Fatima, one of the three women who survived a Noor attack. After witnessing a brutal and tragic death, she finds a human child with lethal Ifrit powers. An Ifrit diplomat pulls her into the intrigue at the maharajah’s court, and soon Fatima finds herself the only thing standing in the way of the imminent destruction of Qirat. Without her new powers, Fatima must defend and protect her fragmented family regardless of whatever it takes. However, she isn’t the only person with newfound powers. A concubine’s daughter, sister, the princess must rise above the low expectations set by men around them and become the powerful women they are.

One of the first things that readers who aren’t Muslim or don’t speak Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, or Urdu will notice are plenty of unfamiliar words and phrases in the story. But this should not make you give up on this beautiful story. The author indeed uses a lot of non-Muslim words, but she gives enough context clues to give the reader the basic meaning of the non-English words. Additionally, Nafiza has also included a glossary at the back of the book for the readers to look up the meaning of foreign words and phrases.

Additionally, there’s plenty of use of cultural details in the story. As a reader, you will get to know everything there is to know about the Islamic community. The author doesn’t need to explain every single bit in detail; all she needs is to tell the story in the best way possible for the reader to relate. The Candle and the Flame is a character-driven story, and much of the action in the story is reserved in the last few chapters and pages. The character focus is vital in this case for the action in the last pages to make senses. Because there are plenty of characters in the story, and each character plays a crucial role in the story in the climax, there are a lot of set pieces. The cast in the story evenly split between women and men, and the range of personalities in the story is also different. Men are monstrous, noble, or nondescript. They good men are too good, they are ready for self-sacrifice on behalf of others, and they always have the best of intentions at heart. On the other hand, bad guys are pure evil and sexist.

Women also come in different varieties. Every woman featured in this book, regardless of how insignificant her role or brief she is, is breathing, a living person every reader can relate to. Nafiza Azad characters aren’t just the Chosen One, the princess, the heartless mother, the put upon sister, and the obedient wife. Just like their names, each character carries multiple traits within them, some contradictory, and some complementary. Their past experiences shape these present women choices with life and their future dreams, and they rarely do what is expected of them. There’s one “character of interest” in the story you won’t find in any other Muslim-authored books. There’s the female character in the story who admits that she isn’t attracted to men.

The humans live in a patriarchy and the Ifrit in a matriarchy. Regardless of the gender dominates both; evil men always find a way to inflict harm. Bad men thrive because the people in power dismiss or placate their evil behaviors instead of shunning them. It’s more about how control is used and less about who has control to protect and destroy. In Qirat Empire, men are rulers, and women have the power of their children, and none is afraid to use it. Throughout the story, we see how the feminine gender carves out of its spaces and how their culture protects those spaces to give women more freedom. Oppression and violence against women aren’t caused by Islamic culture but by evil men who have neglected and rejected their culture. The author pushes back against the stereotypes that non-Muslims have of the Islamic society and the patriarchy that exists within the Muslim society.

The Candle and the Flame plot revolves around a few important questions. Why and what makes Fatima special and what does it translate for her life? Who is the person responsible for the death of the Name Giver? What does the Noor’s future hold when many of its citizens are against Ifrit who protect them? All of these issues are evident right from the start of the novel, and the author answers them one by one throughout the story. The author’s use of language also gives the reader a greater depth to the world building itself. Words in Hindi, Urdu, and Arabic are scattered throughout the novel with a deft casual hand, and that makes them blend seamlessly into the story. Overall Nafiza Azad debut novel burns bright and hot with vivid settings nuanced women and deep emotions.

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