Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

From Goodreads: 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 needs 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.

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: One of the first YA series I ever read and promptly fell in love with was Tamora Pierce’s The Song of the Lioness. Along with Harry Potter, it instilled in me a lifelong love for fantasy; and so even though I don’t read as much of the genre these days as I should, I still try to squeeze in a fantasy now and then. Therefore, when I saw a blurb from Pierce at the top of the cover of Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns, it was pretty much a sure bet that I’d be reading it with huge expectations. Fortunately, Carson doesn’t disappoint.

The world building in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is fantastic, and presented carefully in a rich and detailed manner throughout the story so as to not overwhelm the reader. What’s even better about Carson’s fantasy world is that the society appears diverse and isn’t composed primarily of White characters. Also, I applaud Carson for the way she made religion play such an integral part of the storyline and the culture without it becoming uncomfortable or bothersome.

As well, it was refreshing that the focus in The Girl of Fire and Thorns wasn’t on romance. I appreciate a good romance, but sometimes it’s nice to have a story where I’m not forced to be a Team Something or read about an instant love relationship. While there is some romance, the focus is rather on Elisa and her transformation from a pampered (but not spoiled) princess who has reservations about herself and gorges on food – oh, the food! – in order to make herself feel better to that of a girl who is confident in herself and capable of becoming a worthy leader.

With the spotlight on Elisa though, I felt like I only got to know most of the other characters superficially and so couldn’t really miss those who died. Since The Girl of Fire and Thorns is the first book in a planned trilogy however, there’s still time for Carson to make me fall in love with the characters I’m starting to like.

A book deserving of Pierce’s blurb, The Girl of Fire and Thorns will be released by Greenwillow Books on September 20, 2011. 

Comments About the Cover: The original ARC cover is pretty, but the model in no way resembles Elisa who isn’t thin and describes herself as “brown.” 

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via NetGalley. 


  1. I agree that sometimes it is nice to read a book that doesn't focus on romance. Sounds like a great start to this series. Fantastic review :)

  2. Great review! Sounds like a great book. I think world building is often overlooked when it shouldn't be. I'll have to check this one out.

    Giselle at Xpresso Reads

  3. I love a good romance too, but I agree that every now and then it's nice to have a story that focuses on something else and the romance is just a subtle element. Loved how much Elisa grew in this story and I can't wait for the next installment, like you, I was surprised at some of the deaths but I wasn't distraught since I didn't know them all that well. Hope we get to the ones left and any new ones more in book 2!

  4. I really liked this book too. I was shocked with that one death, but I agree with you, I wasn't attached. I liked how the religion was portrayed.

  5. This one looks really good, and since I love any book with good world building and a plot that doesn't focus primarily on romance, I'll definitely be giving this one a try. Thanks for the review! :)

  6. I really want to read this one! It sounds amazing! Great review.

  7. It reminds me of another fantasy book I read recently which wasn't centered on romance. I liked that one so hope I'll like The Girl of Fire and Thorns too.

  8. Am I crazy or does this book have more cover variations than most?

    Or maybe I'm thinking of a different book(s).

    Unfortunately, I've never been much of a fantasy reader myself, which is strange since PNR is a sub-genre and god knows I LOVE that.

    But I do totally get what you mean about the romance not being the primary angle and enjoying to story much more because of that.

    Even though Romance is my main thing, I've read a few books where it wasn't the focus and also enjoyed not have to pick a team or fret over the couple denying their feelings until the very end. It's very refreshing, to say the least.

    Perhaps this book would be a good one for me to read to dive back into the world of fantasy, especially if there is good food to read about.

  9. I wanted to read this because of the cover. Too bad they changed it. But I only heard good things about it so I'd still love to read it. :)

  10. This one sounds really good, plus I've read a whole bunch of good reviews for it. Can't wait!

  11. Amazing reivew! now Im more exited than beofre to receive my copy! I hope it will arive around thursday or friday sniff!.

    Have you read The Seven Realms series by Cinda WIlliams Chima? they are SOO GOOD!! Amazing! really really awesome! However, in those books there is probably more romance that in The GIrl of Fire and Thorn (for the way you described it) and you will be divided between two gorgeous guys! so yeah, you'll be forced to be team something =S. However, the romance is not the main point of the story!! Yey for that!! there is so much more to see =P. I have the review of the second and third book in my blog XDDD. Too bad I never wrote the first one. sniff. Anyways. That s it XDD
    I talk too much!


  12. Then that cover is really not cool. I mean if she considers herself as 'brown'. I love fantasy books, I really do, I should read more fantasy books. :)

  13. I'm looking forward to reading this one. I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy it and appreciate how religion is treated and how romance isn't a major focus, like you mention.

  14. Im glad you are adding The Seven Realms to your list! it is sooo freaking EPIC!!!!!!!! like HUGE EPIC!!! =DDDDDDDDDDDD

  15. Looking forward to reading this one. I get tired of having to pick teams too. I'm bummed about the cover. I didn't know she described herself as brown but I was aware of her being on the heavy side. The cover girl is definitely not. Too bad they didn't stick with the story.


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