Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
High Fantasy YA
Published 9/20/11 by Greenwillow Books
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 needs 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.
I’m a fantasy fan. No secret. I grew up devouring book after book by Tamora Pierce in particular, so I was especially excited to see that she had a blurb on the front of my ARC copy. “Engrossing,” she said.
Oh, Tamora. I AGREE.
The protagonist, Elisa, seems a bit of a hopeless case. She wallows in her self-pity and feelings of inadequacy as the bearer of the Godstone. Why did God pick her? she wonders. Surely she isn’t good enough.
But there’s a fire in Elisa that she doesn’t see at first. Yes, she drowns her sorrows in too many pastries (haven’t we all been there?) but when confronted with duty and danger, Elisa rises again and again to meet the challenges, until her character is so developed and confident that I wanted to pump my fist in the air and whoop for her. Yes, Elisa! Go, girl.
The land that Elisa lives in comes alive: The desert, the government details, the religion, language, food (do not read when hungry!), the clothing… it is clear that Rae Carson was careful with her world-building. I felt like I had fallen into the war and landscape of Joya d’Arena at times. Terrifying as it was (their enemies do not mess around), I didn’t want to come out.
Every time I thought I knew where this story was going, I was wrong. I have never enjoyed being incorrect so much in my life.
Rating: 5/5. I couldn’t believe it when I found that Rae Carson was a debut author. I felt like saying: “Go ahead. Pull the other one.” Because the Girl of Fire and Thorns is absolutely masterfully crafted.