The Girl of Fire and Thorns
By Rae Carson
My Rating: 3.5 / 5
I was interested in this book because I was looking for a new fantasy book to read, and I liked that this one had a female protagonist. I also liked that it was only $2.99 through the Kobo store! Here is the Kobo store’s summary:
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, 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.
Elisa is a 16 year old princess of Orovalle, passing her time eating pastries from the kitchen and studying the Belleza Guerra, a book on the history and strategies of war. Her older sister, Alodia, is the one who will inherit her father’s throne, the one that the people of Orovalle know and love. Elisa is happy to stay out of the spotlight. However, she bears the Godstone, a mysterious gem in her belly button signifying that she has been chosen by God for an important act of service – if only she knew what that act would be.
Elisa learns that she is to marry Alejandro, the king of Joya d’Arena. After they are wed, she is to travel with him to his kingdom. Things take a bad turn, though, when their caravan is attacked, and this sets off a chain of events in which Elisa is caught up in political games, war, danger, and the mystery and power of the Godstone – including what others would do to get their hands on it and her.
First of all, I loved Elisa. She was somewhat self-deprecating and self-conscious, and I liked seeing her grow from someone who was uncertain and not very confident to someone who was sure of herself and of what needed to be done, even if it meant taking risks. I also liked that she liked to eat and that she was not skinny – it made her much more relatable than some heroines I’ve read about who are constantly being described as tiny and skinny and fragile. Elisa becomes proud and strong throughout the book.
All of the characters in this book were well-written and developed, even secondary characters. There is also some political intrigue and romance that Elisa is caught up in, and so it certainly felt that there was a lot going on in this book. It all worked for me though. There was a nice balance between the romance, the mystery of the Godstone, and the action. The book was also unpredictable. I was definitely taken by surprise more than once at the turn of events, and it always makes me happy to read a book where I don’t predict the outcome of events or fates of major characters.
Another part of what made this book work for me was the writing and world-building. The author’s descriptions were vivid and helped bring the story to life. I could easily picture all of the places Elisa travelled to.
I have read that this is the first in a series, with the next book coming out sometime this fall. I will definitely be looking to read that, but this book could stand on its own. I thought there was a definite resolution to the main plot points of this book, which I appreciate. It’s frustrating to read a book that ends on a cliffhanger simply because it’s part of a series. I like each book having its own ending, and so I’m looking forward to another story with these characters in the next book.
This is a great YA novel combining elements of historical fiction with a good mix of fantasy and romance thrown in. If that appeals to you, I highly recommend this book!