Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: The Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson

Series: Fire And Thorns (#1)
Pages: 432
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published: September 20th, 2011
IBSN: 9780062026484

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.

Once a century, someone is gifted with the Godstone and destined to complete  some heroic act. Elisa is that someone; an unlikely hero, never living up to her sister and having a larger-than-usual penchant for food. But thrust into a role she isn't ready for, she'll discover a brave part of herself she never knew before.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Girl Of Fire And Thorns. I hadn't read any reviews before beginning, and I'm always wary of epic fantasies (even though I usually love them). But Rae Carson's debut was completely engaging and entirely enjoyable. It's one of the great books I've read recently that pulled me from a reading slump.

Her writing style was smooth, with a distinct and easy flow to it. The language was appropriate to the setting, complete with a few of the cumbersome names typical of epic fantasies.

Elisa was an easily likable main character, with natural flaws and insecurities. She developed a lot as a result of her circumstances, from relatable to admirable. She didn't have a choice, but made the best of her situation and did all she could to save the village. She was compassionate and level-headed and I loved her for it.

Elisa isn't the only noteworthy character, however. Secondary characters were remarkably well fleshed out, and I was always unsuspectingly developing emotional attachments to them. Carson does an excellent job of gradually changing your opinion about a character -- as enemies become friends and friends commit betrayals -- and portraying them in a new light.

The plot was fast-paced, and the twists frequent and unpredictable. Carson didn't shy away from creating dire and intense situations and she wasn't afraid to put her characters under the huge pressures the premise required. Everything turning out in favour of the main character isn't realistic, and this story reflected that. The stakes were constantly high and I was on the edge of my seat the entire way.

The Girl Of Fire And Thorns was an exciting story, perfect as a standalone novel, so I've got mixed feelings about making it into a series. Still, this book is one I'd definitely recommend to fans of fantasy novels like Mistwood, Graceling, and Blood Song.

I give The Girl Of Fire And Thorns a 5 out of 5.