Rae Carson
The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Fire and Thorns, Book #1

Review brought to you by OBS staff member Annabell Cadiz

Note: Some spoilers included!

Synopsis: 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.

Review: Ever tired of the predictable heroine who is as skinny as a super model but somehow houses so many securities she never realizes her beauty, until a knight in shiny white armor gallops on the back of a white stallion and announces he must have her. They must then overcome varying amounts of obstacles to save both their love and their country. A story, which has a happily ever after ending, that would make Hallmark proud. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is not that novel–and thank God for small miracles!

One of the many charms of this novel is the non-cliché heroine presented through Elisa. She is more plumb than we are use to reading. A princess who is voluptuous and quite useless at the beginning. She rather stuffs her face full of pastries than learn how to handle political affairs along with her snotty older sister, Alodia, and her practically absentee father. Elisa blossoms throughout the story into a much stronger and wiser woman. She begins as a lost girl attempting to figure out why God has chosen her when she seems more equipped to handle a food contest better than a destiny. Elisa’s beauty lies in her naiveté and her heart.

As much as I appreciated the author for creating a character outside the usual norm, I was rather disappointed to discover she became more accepting of herself when she lost the weight. Mind you, Elisa losses her weight through being kidnapped into the desert, enduring trauma, hunger, and hardship. Not exactly the way one should advertise a weight loss program. I would have preferred Elisa being proud of herself through being a size twelve and her accomplishments then finally learning to accept who she is and how she looks from losing a few pounds.

King Alejandro may win the sexiest man of the year cover for People Magazine but what he makes up for in good looks, he lacks in leadership. I had also enjoyed the fact that a man of power was not as strong as his female counter part. King Alejandro is unable to make a decision even with the onset of war looming. He seconds guesses himself more than a woman tends to and acts more like a school boy playing dress up than a king of a vast nation and powerful army. King Alejandro does have his strengths though. He is extremely good looking, charming, and undeniably kind. He shows that on the day he marries Elisa and throughout the novel by never forcing her into anything or taking advantage of her.

There is an onslaught of humorous and entertaining characters throughout the story. Cosme was by far one of my favorites. She has faced more loss and tragedy than Elisa could imagine and has remained strong and steadfast. She is good at wearing a mask of nonchalance and indifference but underneath the tough exterior Cosme has an open heart and caring soul. Humberto was also one of the sweetest and loveliest characters. He begins his journey with Elisa by playing the role of one of the kidnappers, but his relationship with Elisa grows and changes as they face war and near death moments. He is very kind and loving from the moment he is introduced. He sees beauty more deeply than just the surface and carries himself with courage, wisdom, and gentleness.

The pacing, while at certain times does become stale, is well done. The characters are rich and developed. The setting is lush and descriptive. I also loved the aspect of faith and courage presented throughout the entire story. As a Christian, I appreciated the moments of prayer and also the doubts Elisa faces in her faith. It showed the realness of her relationship with God and was not overly preachy.

Even with the wonderful strengths the novel holds, there are also many flaws. By far the worse is what happens to Humberto. At that moment I almost gave up reading the rest of the novel. What happens to him was completely pointless to the plot and a twist that backfired on the story. I was extremely disappointed by what the author chose to do. After that scene, the story lost its lure and heartbeat.

The ending was mediocre. The magic behind Elisa’s power in the Godstone was so completely anti-climatic I had to reread it to make sure I actually didn’t miss anything. The entire novel, right from the beginning, talks about the power of the Godstones, building up the suspense so by the time you get to the end and find out about Elisa’s stone, you are so utterly astonished at how boring and seemingly useless her power is. Plus, the revelation took the entire span of the novel to be announced which caused some parts of the story to feel redundant. Alejandro’s son was also a character that didn’t quite fit into the story. He was a bit pointless and didn’t help to really move the story forward. Elisa spends too much time whinnying in her insecurity for my taste at times. There were at certain points where the dialogue did not fit in well.

I was not able to fall in love with this book because I felt gypped through what happened to Humberto and the lack of power behind Elisa’s Godstone.

Outside of the various flaws within the novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is still a lovely read and a book worth giving a chance to.

For more information on the author and her work, check out her website here.