Mini Review: The Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire & Thorns
Rae Carson

Greenwillow Books
Released September 20, 2011
423 pages
YA / Fantasy / Magic

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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 really hate when a book builds all this good will and then smashes it to sand with some ridiculous action of an important character or with something that happens that creates such a ridiculous scene in your head that you just give up. I was liking The Girl of Fire and Thorns well enough, maybe finding bits of it a little repetitive, but then the absolute most crucial moment of the story created a scene so ridiculous and comical in my head that I almost set the book down and walked away even though I only had about 30 pages left. All my warm and interested feelings for these characters and this series was wiped away with a sentence.


It was quickly going downhill as I figured out how the bad guys are going to be defeated, but in execution it was even more ridiculous. The sentence that finally broke me:

And then my amulet begins to spin like a pinwheel on the axis of my navel.

Okay, so I bought in to this book even though the plot basically boils down to a girl, who receives vague messages from God through a jewel in her belly button that appeared after a ray of light hit her on her naming day soon after her birth, has to save the world from fire welding magic people. It’s a silly idea, but Carson’s execution kept me hanging on even after our lead princess falls in love with one of her kidnappers because he has a goofy grin and kind eyes. Though the story dragged and became a little repetitive with all of the trudging through the desert or praying or sitting around planning a war, I was intrigued by the world Carson was building, though never fully pulled in.

The story really comes together when Elisa comes into her own, growing brave and strong in the face of mounting odds against her. Her first encounter with the bad guys that make the Invierno army is exciting and that excitement carries on through much of the rest of the book as people begin to die or get tortured, removing any sense of safety for the well-being of any of the surrounding characters. There is true excitement when anyone could die at any moment, when safety is almost only guaranteed for the main character since it’s the beginning of a series. As the Inviernos and their fire welding animagi threaten her castle, that’s when things start devolving until we get to the belly button bling engine that turns a crude flower shape amulet into Elisa’s own personal tummy propeller.

I almost gave up, but forced myself to continue. Luckily my inability to give up on something after I start them led me to push forwarded to The Crown of Embers, which turned out to be significantly better than this first volume. But that is a review for another day. If you can handle ridiculous better than I can, you might find The Girl of Fire and Thorns must more enjoyable throughout than I was able. 


I got a copy of this book from my local library and will soon be returning it.