Review | The Girl of Fire & Thorns – Rae Carson

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  • Paperback (Greenwillow Books, 423 pages)
  • First published 2011; this edition published 2012
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars
  • Buy the book here

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, and 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 her to be 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. 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 was persuaded to get a copy of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by the lovely Adriana at perpetualpages. I’d seen it around on BookTube a fair few times, and I thought I’d give it a shot.

And you know what? I’m glad I did. I thought Elisa was incredibly human – she was clever but insecure about many things, and knew well what others seemingly thought of her. It was easy to get inside her head and understand exactly why she felt a certain way about particular topics. And it was still easy to remember that even though she was making adult decisions, she was still very much a sixteen year old girl, subject to her emotions, hormones, and teenage drama. At times, it seemed as though she was too mature for sixteen – but then, if I were thrown into Elisa’s situation, I have no idea how mature I’d be, especially if I had a Godstone in my navel and people hunting me down because of that.

The other sticking point, for me, was Elisa’s constant referral to her figure and weight. I thought when I first read it that it detracted from the plot considerably – but if you’re an overweight sixteen year old girl constantly in the spotlight and being judged for your weight, was the constant reminder really that distracting? Elisa is, above all things, a teenage girl. Clever, insightful, insecure, and very prone to worrying.

The plot itself was brilliant; full of  military strategy, emergencies, and tension – and a certain death left me shocked. But I get the feeling that Rae Carson doesn’t pull punches in fiction. For that, I’m glad. The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a roller coaster of a read, with gripping, lyrical prose and fully developed characters that I both hated and adored. I’m still not entirely sure what the Godstone is, but I’m assuming that we’ll find out in the sequels – sequels that I am really looking forward to reading.

Rae Carson has created a brilliant world with wonderful characters, and if you’re looking for a fantasy series that doesn’t hold back or sugarcoat, this is the one for you.

 

 

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