Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #1
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars!
The Overview: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.
For one reason or another, this book didn’t have much initial cover appeal to me, so I passed it over early on without taking the time to find out what it was about. Foolish I tell you – FOOLISH! It wasn’t until I jumped aboard the Throne of Glass bandwagon that I started noticing the many cross-references between the two series. Then I randomly found and purchased a signed copy of the third book and decided I should probably borrow the first one from the library to see if I even liked it (yes, I’m utilizing the library now for the first time in my entire life… unemployment will do that to you). Anyway, after a massive reading binge, I’ve decided Girl of Fire and Thorns just might be among my all-time favorites – I loved it!!! Books two and three will be telling, but for now, lets suffice to say I’m completely thrilled about how much I enjoyed book one.
It had everything I expect from a great YA novel. Heck, it had just about everything I expect from a robust high fantasy novel, too. Great, relatable characters, a unique world filled with interesting cultures, magic, an epic adventure, and fantastic pacing! I laughed, I cried, I yelled, and I seethed – basically, I was completely invested from page one and felt every victory and loss as if they were my own. It’s always nice when a book is written so well that it can draw you out of reality, and this one did so in a way that will stick with me for years.
Elisa, the protagonist, is definitely what I would call an atypical heroine. Often, champions I’ve read about in other books start out with a solid set of skills, sporting flaws that are superficial or easy to overcome (such as not knowing how beautiful they are, or being too impulsive… you get the idea). I actually can’t immediately think of a female lead with so many things to overcome as Elisa at the beginning of the book. As a heavily protected Princess, Elisa had very few skills that would allow her to be self-sufficient. What’s more, she was also dealing with the emotional damage of feeling unloved, unwanted, and worthless. These feelings caused her to seek comfort from wherever she could find it… primarily in food. Overcoming these things took no small amount of effort, and because of that, Elisa is my favorite component of this book. She was compassionate, smart, courageous, and adaptable and, although she had magic, it was those endearingly human traits that let her do extraordinary things, touching my heart in the process. I truly loved going on this journey with her, and look forward to seeing where it takes her next!
The world building was probably my second favorite element of the story. I love it when authors imagine up multiple cultures, give them some swords and religious convictions, and throw them together and to see what happens. I find it fascinating to see how they develop and react around one another, and I have the feeling I’ve only just scratched the surface of the cultural convictions this series has to offer. And, oh my gosh, the setting! With everything from tropical forests to desert wastelands, the settings were vivid and exciting. I don’t know if this is what the author was going for, but I felt like I was experiencing landscape similar to Central and South America, and it was wicked cool.
Overall, this is one of those books I want all of my friends to read because I’m just bursting to talk about it. I liked Girl of Fire and Thorns so much, I immediately ordered it and the sequel in hardcover for my collection. It has similarities to things I’ve read before, but there were enough unique elements to make me feel like I read something fresh and original. If you need me, I will be devouring the second and third books in the series…
Other books you might like: