The Candle and the Flame

416p. glossary. Scholastic. May 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338306040.
Gr 7 Up—Eighteen-year-old Fatima is a human who carries the fire of the djinn within her. She's a devout Muslim raised by her adopted Hindu family in Noor, a city along the Silk Road, when her parents and all but two other of the city's inhabitants are slain in a massacre by the Shayateen, a class of djinn who thrive on chaos and destruction. Noor emerges from the ashes to become a vibrant multicultural city where Muslims, Hindus, and others live together in a brokered peace maintained by human rule and the protection of the Ifrit Djinn, who value order and reason. There are signs, however, that this peace is under serious threat. When Fatima's presence at the violent death of Firdaus, a powerful Ifrit, transforms her into Fatima Ghazala, she is changed in ways that upend her identity, threaten her relationships, and thrust her into the center of the city's ruling class. Under the protection of the Ifrit's leader, Zulfikar, Fatima finds herself grappling with feelings she's never had before. In this sophisticated debut novel, Azad combines Islamic concepts and Middle Eastern mythology with a variety of other traditions to create a magical treatise on identity, community, friendship, and love. Readers will identify with female characters who struggle against limiting societal expectations. The themes of trauma and grief are treated with care. Azad's vivid depiction of the details of Noor's sights and sounds make the city come alive. Back matter includes a glossary of terms. Readers may also enjoy the forthcoming title We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal.
VERDICT A moving commentary on gender roles, identity, love, and loss, and a first purchase for school and public libraries.

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