Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Series: Fire and Thorns #1

the girl of fire and thorns -rae carsonOnce 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.

3 Drink Me Potions

The Girl of Fire and Thorns was an interesting fantasy adventure with a huge religious backstory weaved throughout it. The world building was intriguing, with our protagonist Elisa being married off to the King of another kingdom for who knows what purposes. That sounds familiar enough, right? Something you may see in another fantasy adventure book? But the world building wasn’t as special as the huge amount of work that went into describing their religion and quotes of the religious scriptures that they believed in. After all, Elisa was the bearer of a physical stone embedded into her navel, known as the Godstone. She was God’s chosen one, so therefore, this story was gonna be heavily influenced by what she perceived as her duty to fulfill God’s will.

The world and all the people in it felt like it was heavily influenced by a Spanish-speaking community. The religion felt oddly familiar, like it too was influenced by Catholicism in its traditional rituals and sacraments. I found this unique and strange all at the same time. Religion and magic interweaved into a story together in the YA genre is not very common. Coming from one who personally believes in God, Carson wrote something that wouldn’t necessarily offend people as Elisa’s religion wasn’t quite the same as what people in our world believe in, and it wasn’t urging people to believe in what she did. I found myself oddly enjoying this aspect. As this God had characteristics like my God, I could personally understand Elisa’s struggles in figuring out her path as His chosen one.

In this world, she is a very special person to be born with a Godstone. Throughout the story, Elisa was my favourite part of it. There was so much inner struggle in finding out where she belonged, in how she could possibly do something of great service for the world and complete her “destiny”. She had self-esteem problems. She wasn’t a thin, willowy girl, but rather enjoyed her pastries and a little bit on the bigger side. Being compared to a sister who did fit the above description, it’s hardly a wonder she felt second to everything, no matter that she was the bearer of a Godstone.

The adventure component wasn’t extremely heavy. It was a nice setup for the following novels, and a good introduction to the bad guys, the Inviernos. These strange people with magical blue fire were ferocious and mysterious, their purposes unknown to the rest of the kingdoms. With the world changing as she knew it, Elisa wondered if this could be the thing she was meant to do – to stand between the world’s people and the incoming fire of the Inviernos.

She grew immensely over the span of the story. I loved that about her. She was fearful. She knew bearers barely survive their service, let alone fulfill them. With everyone constantly telling her they knew what God’s will was for her , the frustration to do something was high as well. But at the end of the day, she learned from her experiences. It wasn’t about knowing exactly what she was meant to do. It was learning to trust in herself and in the purpose set for her.

I understand why it is better to die from my service than never complete it all. [Previous bearers] never profited from their acts of heroism; everyone who followed did. In the same way, I may never reap the benefits of mine, should I complete it. But that doesn’t matter, because God placing his stone in my belly was never about me.

For you romance lovers out there, don’t fret. There was some in this fantasy novel. It wasn’t a major component, and I found that it was a side interest compared to everything else that was going on. However, I assure you that in the following novels there would be more of that.

Over all, The Girl of Fire and Thorns really set the stage for this strange yet familiar world that Elisa lives in. If there was only a bit more action and suspense to the novel, I would’ve raised my rating a little higher. Otherwise, I think this is one fantasy that is unlike anything else out there right now.

Overall Recommendation:
Rae Carson creates a world that is heavily influenced by the religion of this world. Elisa, the bearer of a Godstone, has a great destiny awaiting her. Over the course of the crazy events in this fantasy novel, she overcomes self-esteem issues in her abilities to really do what everyone expects of her. I love how relateable of a heroine she was. She was just an ordinary girl who happened to be chosen to do something for her people. Her fears, her struggles with faith in herself and God, her strength in character as she faced the challenges thrown her way in a new land, all made it a wonderfully fast read. If you give this book a try, you’ll be sucked into this world, craving to see what’s next. A great start for a trilogy that’s guaranteed to be like nothing else in YA fantasy you’ve seen

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