Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Greenwillow Books, 2011
422 pages
YA; Fantasy
4/5 stars

Source: Received an ARC from Amazon's Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

Garnering comparisons to Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce as well as rave reviews throughout the blogosphere, I was very excited to dive into this book as I hoped for a fast read in an atmospheric world with an outstanding main character.

Unfortunately the beginning was very slow with a main character who is very convinced of her unremarkable personality and who left me convinced of same. Still she is a princess with a gem in her belly button, having been chosen for a mysterious duty, as have others in previous centuries according to an ancient prophecy. The jewel marks her as the hope for many but also puts her in danger as she learns when she embarks on a new life, secretly married to a king of a neighboring country.

When Elisa arrives, she is comfortably ensconced but unfulfilled as some scheme against her, openly and secretly. After a frightening event, she is pushed far beyond her limits and begins to dig deep into her inner resources to discover great strength and to save her people.

Actually once that event occurred, the book became a lot more interesting to me because that's when Elisa finally starts doing stuff. I understand the need for setup and how those earlier scenes paid off later in the book. But Elisa was so passive and boring at the beginning. I guess it's hard for me to care when a character is so convinced of her worthlessness; I tend to start to agree. But thankfully she does start to kick butt, using her physical abilities, her brain, and her kind heart to help.

At the beginning the other characters interested me more but as Elisa, rightfully, overshadowed them, I didn't become any less interested in them. I became invested in most of them, shocked at some of their actions, and grieved by some of their goodbyes.

The other really fascinating element of this book is the focus on religion. Elisa comes from a very conservative, rigid variation while she marries a king whose country is a bit more liberal in their interpretations of texts for the same religion. Then there are their opponents who are considered barbaric but also seem to worship in a similar fashion. I loved the incorporation of religion and the importance of faith for Elisa and the other characters. I am also fascinated by interpretations and translations of the Bible so seeing some of the characters here engage in the same work with their sacred texts was delightful and really helped distinguish this book from some other fantasy.

Overall: A slow beginning that does pay off with lovely prose and exciting action. Not a cliffhanger but still leaves you eager for further adventures.


  1. I think the non-cliffhanger had the BIGGEST appeal for me!

    And yes yes yes about grieving some of the goodbyes. SO SAD. And shocking.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed Girl of Fire And Thorns.

  2. ooh, I'm so not into slow beginnings, but I'm glad to hear that there is action! Me, a action -addict need that! :) Great review.

  3. I agree, the beginning was slower, but for some reason that didn't bother me. I think I was so into the atmosphere of it all. I liked seeing Elisa grow and I'm with you on the religion. I thought it was written in a very interesting way.

  4. I'm really glad you liked this one, B! I saw it around a lot a while ago and I remember thinking that it sounded super cool, because I love books with hierarchies in them! :)

    It's too bad that this one starts off pretty slow, though! I've been reading a bunch of books that have been slow to start lately, but at least it picks up later on. And it makes me happy that there's no cliffhanger -- I've been seeing so many of them lately LOL!

    Awesome review, B! :)

  5. I'm so glad the ending isn't cliff hanger! I want to read it so bad!!! Great review :)

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  6. The slow beginning didn't deter me at all, but I think that was mostly do to the fact that I EXPECTED a lot of set-up to go down. I generally do with fantasy reads. And I think Elisa's growth is what inspired me the most to finish the book. Where I was first sympathetic to her character, I later became shockingly attached. The same with the other characters. And while at times I got a little lost, I managed to find my way back and enjoy the plot. Overall, a flawed, but amazing read, indeed :)

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)


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