Elisa is not your typical princess. She’s not particularly pretty, and she likes pastries far more than is fitting for someone of her rank. One might even dare to call her fat. Her appearance has never really bothered her though, not until she discovers she’s been promised to the king of a distant kingdom. She can’t understand why she was selected over her older sister, but she can only suspect it has something to do with the Godstone—a jewel in Elisa’s stomach that signifies she has been chosen by God for some higher purpose.
Elisa can only hope that her husband is ugly because she doesn’t want him to be disappointed by her appearance. She’s so used to letting down everyone around her. Her father coddles her, her sister despises her, and Elisa has no friends besides her nurses. She can’t imagine ever becoming something great because who would ever believe it of her?
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a fantasy novel set in a strange world that bears strikingly similarities to Spain: the language, the culture, and even the religion. Religion abounds in this place; Elisa is very religious and trusts in God to make her path clear to her. She believes the Godstone was a gift from God, though she doesn’t use that to force her beliefs on others. And when Elisa is faced with her enemy and realizes that they, too, believe they’re doing the work of God, it makes for an interesting conflict. The religion isn’t overdone or distasteful, and it works within the confines of the story.
Elisa is also a pretty dynamic main character. It’s so incredibly refreshing to see a YA heroine who isn’t tall, willowy thin, blond, and beautiful. Elisa’s not particularly attractive, and because she fills the holes within herself by eating, she’s not really thin either. She’s so easy to sympathize with; everyone’s felt lonely at one point or another. She’s so tired of being a disappointment; her pain is really palpable.
But Elisa’s also kind of a kick-a** girl. Near the beginning of the book, she shows her steely interior, the stuff she’s really made of underneath that soft surface. She’s also very smart and not afraid to use her brain. It’s incredible to watch Elisa grow over the course of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, rising to occasions she never even dreamed she’d have to face. If nothing else, Elisa makes this book worth reading.
Rae Carson writes an intriguing world for the reader; she delivers enough information to flesh it out, yet holds enough back to keep some sense of mystery. Unsurprisingly, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is the first in a trilogy, so it’ll be interesting to see where Carson takes the world next and how she fleshes out the enemy further, as readers are really only treated to a few tantalizing glimpses of them. This is a YA novel that is definitely worth your time; it’s one of those that takes very unexpected twists and turns, surprising the reader over and over again. What Carson does with Elisa is unique and the strength her character shows is great. The Girl of Fire and Thorns recently released in paperback, and the sequel, The Crown of Embers, is releasing in a few weeks, so you should definitely pick up this book soon.
Will you read The Girl of Fire and Thorns?