Friday, March 09, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (YA)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Rae Carson. 2011. HarperCollins. 425 pages.

Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom. The Scriptura Sancta lies discarded, pages crumpled, on my bed. Bruises mark by knees from kneeling on the tiles, and the Godstone in my navel throbs. I have been praying--no, begging--that King Alejandro de Vega, my future husband, will be ugly and old and fat. Today is the day of my wedding. It is also my sixteenth birthday.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns was nothing like I expected. I read the first few chapters and imagined it heading in one direction. I didn't expect it to go oh-so-differently than how I imagined it. And yet, I can't say that those differences kept me from enjoying this novel. Not really.

Elisa is a princess, the second princess. But she's been Chosen, chosen almost since birth. For she bears the godstone in her navel. And chosen ones only appear every four hundred years or so. So she's special. But her being special makes her all that much more vulnerable. For it seems that there are oh-so-many ways to view the godstone. Yes, some react with reverence and respect, devotion and loyalty. But not all. There are some who would kill her for the stone in her navel. Some who would see her as expendable, her only worth being the stone itself. So while her 'chosen' status is known in some circles, in others it's a very closely kept secret.

So. The novel opens with Elisa preparing for her marriage. She's nervous for many reasons. She'll be marrying a stranger, a King, a king with a young son, a king that may or may not be over the loss of his first wife, a king that may or may not ever care for her, a king whose character is completely unknown to her. She's nervous about the impression she'll make on him her future husband. She's definitely on the plump side, and she feels her wedding dress makes her look like an over-stuffed sausage. She sees rolls and rolls of fat and worries that that is all he'll see too. She worries that he'll never look at her with respect, with friendship, or love. So part of her hopes that she won't be attracted to him. She hopes that she won't want a real marriage.

But the King is anything but ugly or fat or old. He makes quite a first impression on her. Not that it's love at first sight. It isn't. It really isn't. But he's kind and gentle. And he seems to see her. Enough that readers feel there is potential. That there is a spark of something that will work in the heroine's favor...

So their journey together begins soon after the marriage. The trip to his kingdom is NOT easy. In fact, it clarifies things for readers. Rae Carson is NOT afraid to kill off characters.

They arrive...and she learns that her marriage is to be kept secret...indefinitely. Once they arrive, she barely sees her new all. And that small spark of potential seems to vanish completely. But her new life isn't horribly lonely. Not really. But before she can adapt to her new role, a role that has her merely as visiting princess, she's kidnapped...and EVERYTHING changes...Elisa most of all. She goes from a shy and uncertain oh-so-vulnerable heroine who doubts that she'll ever live up to being 'the chosen one' to being someone who's incredibly fierce and resourceful and stronger than she ever imagined herself being...

I liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns. There were things I loved about it. There were things I didn't quite love about it. But for the most part I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

Read The Girl of Fire and Thorns
  • If you're a fan of Shannon Hale
  • If you're a fan of Megan Whalen Turner
  • If you're a fan of strong heroines
  • If you're looking for a heroine that doesn't quite look--at least at first--like your typical heroine
  • If you're a fan of fantasy novels
  • If you don't mind losing more than a few characters along the way

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


aLmYbNeNr 12:14 PM  

Great review. I'm sorry you didn't love it as much as I did, but I'm glad there were things you loved and liked.

Billy 2:53 PM  

Excellent review for The Girl of Fire an Thorns. I had never heard of the before, but after reading the review I might have to check it out.

Kailana 11:24 PM  

I really enjoyed this. I am looking forward to the sequel, but yes, it wasn't perfect...

sally apokedak 11:13 PM  

I really enjoyed it. And yes, I'm a fan of all those things you mentioned. :)

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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