Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Published: 2011 by Greenwillow Books
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.
"Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom."
Having only heard positive reviews on this book, I quickly got it from the library and devoured it almost instantly. It’s stunning.
Elisa is being forced to marry an older king, Alejandro (not like, really old, but too old for her. I guessing he’s still pretty hot for like late-thirties(?)), who lives really far away. He knows about her godstone and he wants her to help his country. However, he is also embarrassed by her. Elisa grew up with a mean older sister and no friends so her self-esteem is incredibly low. Food is her only comfort, which of course, makes her fat, which in turn does nothing to raise her self-esteem. After being with the king for a while and learning more about her destiny and the godstone, she gets kidnapped and taken by rebels who want her to help them.
Ultimately this is the story of Elisa finding herself. For so long she’s hid behind food, been overshadowed by her sister, and ignored by her father. Everyone wants her to embrace her destiny as a chosen one should. But most everyone, including herself, doubt her ability. She’s fat, shy, and average. She has major flaws, but she works hard to get around them. Through the novel, she learns more about herself, her abilities, and her power.
The unique and detailed settings were my favorite aspects. From her home, they travel through a dense forest filled with natives, to her husband’s desert kingdom. She also travels across the desert to the mountainous regions. The evil “bad guys” are camped in an area that I always pictured looking like Mordor. Elisa hides in caves and travels along rocky cliffs. Everything was so visual and life-like. Similar to how much I loved the settings in Blood Red Road. Just so diverse. Wonderful world-building. I’m excited to see what new locations will be in the sequel.
I also loved all the characters. I loved the evil, good, neutral characters. Her nursemaid (killing someone with a hairpin is so hardcore.), the courtiers, Humberto and his sister, Hector, EVERYONE. They were all so interesting and intricate. Alejandro had questionable motives and I couldn’t figure him out. Elisa wished for his acceptance and love, even though she didn’t really want it. He was like an unattainable ultimate that she wanted simply to know that she could, but really she didn’t love him.
One of the main conflicts within Elisa was over the godstone. Supposedly she was to use it to complete God’s will. However, the bad guys also claimed that God was telling them to do what they were doing. This confused her. How was she to know what to do or if to do it, if it’s causing these creatures to be evil. Eventually she understood it more, stepped up to the plate, and harnessed the power of the godstone.
I couldn’t believe a certain event that happened about three-fourths of the way through. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve read it. I was very depressed about it for awhile, but then I realized I admired Carson for doing it. It’s not every author who will do something so horrible like that in their first book.
Refreshingly unique, detailed, and interesting, The Girl of Fire and Thorns had me riveted. I can NOT wait for the sequel, The Crown of Embers to come out. I have absolutely no clue what’s going to happen, and that delights me.
Content Warning: Kissing