Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson

Release date: September 20, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: Ebook
Pages: 424
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

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 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 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 put off reading this for a long, long time. But a month or so ago, I saw that it was being offered for $2.99 for my Nook, so I figured, "Why not?" I started it, and absolutely could not put it down. I was fascinated by the lore of the Godstone, Elisa's journey, and the world Carson created. I had a small freak out, after a big incident, when I thought I might have to stop reading, but I persisted and ended up adoring the book entirely.

I've always been a fan of high fantasy, of world's created solely from an author's imagination, where things not of this world are accepted as more commonplace. Some authors try to write high fantasy for a young adult audience, but somehow fail. This is not one of those cases. The nations, people, and locations of The Girl of Fire and Thorns are fascinating and exotic in their own way. I loved seeing them all through Elisa's eyes as they're opened to a new world and a new outlook on life.

Elisa was one of the most interesting characters I've read in a long time. Most heroines in young adult fiction perceive themselves as being unattractive or undesirable when they really are not in any way. Elisa is a lazy princess, one who sits about the castle eating truffles (I don't think she actually ate truffles, but you get the idea), and therefore her body reflects that. She feels useless, and kind of is, except she knows she is meant for some kind of purpose. She doesn't know how she's going to accomplish it, and she fears she won't be able to. As she explores the country of her husband, she finds herself becoming someone she feels could actually accomplish her purpose, mentally and physically. I loved watching her transformation and learning along with her.

The plot and pacing are fantastic as well. I found myself completely engrossed time and time again. Not only could I not get the characters and world out of my head, I couldn't stop wondering what was going to happen next and knew if I kept reading just a teensy bit more I'd find another scene to love. Even after I finished the book, I wanted more. I wanted more of the world. I wanted more of Elisa, her family, and friends. I wanted more of her story.

Risk a paper cut? Absolutely yes. The story enthralled my imagination and my heart, leaving me begging for more.

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