First let me say I’ve read a lot of reviews which have compared this book to Hunger Games and Divergent, only that this book is a worse version.
There is no comparison. None at all.
I enjoyed this book. So much I need to go buy the entire series. So much so I physically had to prevent myself from annotating my favorite passages…there were many. I had to hide the pens.
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 love Elisa’s journey to find out who she is and why she was chosen. Along the way she discovers her strengths and her power. She transforms from a fat, unsure girl with no self-confidence to a strong, smart, compassionate queen.
What I really enjoyed is that Rae Carson accomplished this without “training” Elisa. She goes through her transformation because of the things she experiences along the way that gently shape her into a strong, admirable woman. Even during the beginning when she was fat and nervous, she had an inner strength that was admirable, and that strength helped her to persevere through the challenges she faces during the novel. Elisa is one of my favorite heroines now.
The other characters are just as dimensional. Flaws were abundant, but not cliché. The king, Alejandro, in particular has several huge character flaws. He is a nice and very attractive man, but a hesitant king and an indulgent and neglectful father. This paved the way to one of Elisa’s strengths- her way with the king’s 6 year old son, Rosario. I loved Elisa and Rosario. Their interaction was pure and beautiful, and I cannot wait to read more of them together.
I’d also like to address the Christian critique of this book as I’ve seen many commenting on this element. The Girl of Fire and Thorns exists in a world very like 16th century Catholic Spain- at least it felt that way to me. Obviously there is religion. Elisa is very devout, and the entire plot balances on her belief and faith. But this in no way encourages the reader to believe or requires it of them. This is the integral piece of religion in novels to me. In my review of Arena I ranted about being smacked in the face with religion…poorly written religious allegories. In Arena the main character starts to believe because it is the only way out of the Arena, her whole world starts to revolve around her religious enlightenment. As readers become invested in main characters, we as a result, are also expected to ascend with the main character. This is the type of religion in books I cannot abide. As Elisa’s religion is very different from that in Arena I did not have a problem with it.
I am a fast reader. Like 100 pages/ hour fast. This book made me slow down to read each and every word. That was how fantastic the writing was. To put this in perspective, I think the only other book I have read that slowly is the Silmarillion…because it’s bloody hard to understand! This I read slowly because the writing was beautiful and I didn’t want to miss a single word. Honestly some of the best writing I have ever encountered.
Put that on top of a kick ass plot and….
5 star book.