This book, published in 2011, is the first in a young adult fantasy trilogy. This first book follows chosen one Elisa, a sixteen year old princess, on a journey that takes her far from home and safety. Elisa is an unusual chosen one – she isn’t athletic or adored, and she is deeply unsure of her destiny. But like a good hero story, her journey teaches her about what kind of person she is capable of being. For the first time in awhile, I careened through the first book in less than a week. I’ve now begun The Crown of Embers, the second book in the trilogy.
What I liked about The Girl of Fire and Thorns is that, though it is beautifully written, the story is harsh and at times brutal. This is fantasy, but without false gilding. The characters are real and complex, the food sounds delicious, and the political intrigues are wrought just enough to give context. But Elisa makes hard choices and she makes sacrifices. Being the chosen one is a hard job; so is being a princess. But as Elisa manages to scrape by or outright succeed with each new challenge, I’ve grown to like her, and to root for her, which is one of the best things a YA novel can spark in a reader.
I got interested in Rae Carson after first hearing about her new book, Walk on Earth a Stranger. This new book is about a girl living during the gold rush in the United States who finds herself a target because of a special magical ability. Walk on Earth a Stranger doesn’t come out until September 2015, and at this rate I’ll be done with Carson’s first trilogy long before then. But Rae Carson is a YA writer whose work I will watch for from now on.