Author: Kristin Cashore
Location: YA Cashore
Reading Level: Young Adult
Fire is heralded as the prequel to Kristin Cashore’s debut novel Graceling but the events in Fire occur about 50 – 80 years prior to Graceling and only one character carries over into that novel. This book takes place outside the seven kingdoms in a land called The Dells. Its inhabitants have never heard of those who are “graced” instead they contend with the lawlessness that characterized the rule of its last king and his corrupt advisor who are both now dead. Monsters also exist in this land, beings with a spectacular, bewitching beauty that have the power to enchant all those who look on them.
Fire, daughter of the king’s late advisor, is the only living human monster in the Dells. She is conflicted about her monster existence but has a moral bearing. Those who knew her father, blatantly mistreat Fire or are so wary of her abilities that they avoid her at all costs. She herself is initially timid and unassuming for fear of becoming the evil, degenerate being that was her father. She is also in danger from other monsters who desire to consume her. In addition to her natural beauty, Fire wields the power to control the minds of most everything around her, but does so reluctantly and only to protect herself. She wishes to live a quiet, unremarkable existence surrounded by her few friends. However, with her ties to the crown, her unique powers could be used to aid the new king as he steers the land toward a more peaceful existence.
Initially, I found the main concept of this book uninteresting, who wants to read about another beautiful girl with problems? I gave it a shot because I loved Graceling and think Cashore’s writing is phenomenal. Once I started reading, I found myself instantly hooked on this new land, the idea of monsters, the creepy character from Graceling, and on Fire herself. The characterization of Fire is absolutely brilliant. I enjoyed watching her overcome her struggles and blossom into a spectacularly realized character by the end. Even though this book is very much about Fire, supporting characters generate interest as well and are far more complex than what one finds in the traditional fantasy novel. The romance was obvious from the beginning but I found that it played out in a very satisfying, if not surprising, way. Since the Dells is a warring, contentious land, the suspense really builds in this book and it has some great action sequences from the middle to the end. I honestly enjoyed every second I spent reading this book and I will be in impatient anticipation for the next.
The Bottom Line: If you liked Graceling, you will enjoy Fire, but give it a shot either way. The story is imaginative, creative, and enthralling. For me, I loved it just as much as Graceling. Recommend it to teens and adults who enjoy fantasy, action, and a little romance.- Please forgive the massive review, I liked it so much and just got carried away ;)