Note: This week starts the beginning of my twice a week posts (I said biweekly before, but that actually means once every two weeks. English major fail). I’m aiming for Tuesdays and Fridays, but this might change depending on my schedule.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is Rae Carson’s first novel, published in 2011 by Greenwillow Books. It is the first of an intended trilogy. The second book, The Crown of Embers, comes out September 18, 2012. Her website can be found here.
“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, and he looks at her in ways 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.”
“Prince Rosario looks up from his father’s lap. Such a sweet face with gentle lines, wide eyes, and spider-leg lashes. He looks me over, his eyes grow rounder, and he says in a high voice clear as monastery bells, “You’re fat.”
Sharp intakes of breath. Then silence, taut and heavy. Alejandro’s face is frozen, and the hand clutching his son’s tiny shoulder whitens. Surely the entire nobility can hear my heart beating, my every breath. For a brief moment, I consider feeling, but even in my shocked state, I know things would be worse for me if I did.
So I do the only thing I can.
Recommended Age Range: 13+
What I Liked:
I really enjoyed the setting of this book. The main country where most of the plot takes place is obviously based on Spanish culture/language. The country is called Joya D’Arena, with cities like Brisadulce and Basajuan, and names like Alejandro, Rosario, Elisa, Cosmé, and Humberto. There is the Lengua Classica, the Holy Language, and the Lengua Plebeya. The Lengua Classica is obviously Spanish, with a few small alterations (which may be simply the Inviernes’ dialect): “Né hay ninguno iqui” (238) and “Lo Chato né sería feliz si alquino nos escapría” (238). Beautiful, beautiful language and setting. The main character Elisa is a breath of fresh air. She is not a fighter; she is fat and likes to eat. She does, however, know strategy (and is the “chosen one”). Her growth through the novel is wonderful to watch as she learns how to be a princess, a leader, and a queen. Her relationship with Rosario is lovely.
Carson isn’t afraid of making her characters suffer when it’s necessary; she isn’t afraid of (spoiler??) Killing Her Darlings. This makes the situations scarier, more realistic, and more sorrowful. It makes the characters more real. This was one of the more unique YA fantasies I’ve read, and I loved it.
What I Didn’t Like:
The last Big Reveal of the book was a bit confusing to me; I actually didn’t understand it until I closed the book and thought about it a little bit. This was more likely my fault than Carson’s, however. Also, the inside flap does not do justice to this book at all.
If you love Spanish settings/culture, you’ll most likely enjoy this book. It’s a great unique fantasy with a beautiful setting, great background and customs, and a likeable female lead. It’s a bit violent (they are at war) and there are some gross injury descriptions, but those are easily skipped if need be.
Coming Up Next: Frost by Marianna Baer