Wednesday, 20 July 2011

REVIEW: THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS BY RAE CARSON

Hi everyone! Congratulations on making it to Wednesday alive.

Today I'm going to review The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (which I received as an eARC via NetGalley - thanks NetGalley!) a book which held me utterly spellbound on Monday, and which I still can't stop thinking about now.

The 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. 


The Review:

I honestly don't know what to say about this book. It's not enough to say that I loved it. That I admired it. That I swallowed it in one gulp and that my heart is still filled by it. Or even that, despite the book's carefully crafted and well-resolved story arc, I'd sell a kidney to get hold of the next book in the trilogy. 

As a writer I love and admire many books, and crave their sequels. 

But I don't often read books that I wish, with my whole soul, I had written myself. 

That's a odd statement to make, I know. Of course whenever I like a book I kind of wish that I could have written it. But most of the time know I never could. I don't have the fiendish plotting gift needed to create a trilogy like The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, or the epic vision to come up with a story like Veronica Roth's Divergent, or the skill required to put together a double-crossing Baroque family dynamic like the one in The Demon Trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan. My brain simply doesn't work the way those author's brains work. Not only could I never have written their books the way they did, I know that a story like the stories they have told would never have occurred to me to be written in the first place.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is different. It's a high fantasy which deals with almost every one of my all-time favourite themes to write about. It tackles religion and the dividing and uniting aspects of religion. It deals with the physical and mental transformation of the protagonist. It takes on tragic, forbidden love, friendship, resistence against overwhelming odds and female power. It is written in a voice which is the perfect combination of lyricism and intense sensory description. Its characters - from the main players to the most minor spear-carriers - are beautifully nuanced, multifaceted and complex in just the way I always strive to achieve. The story follows the path which I would have chosen myself, and yet it is utterly unpredictable.

In short, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is the book I want to write when I grow up.

AND IT IS A DEBUT NOVEL.

Sometimes I regret that I got published at such a relatively young age. I mean, I don't regret being a published author, and I'm proud of all my books, imperfect as they are. But I wonder - if I'd waited a few years, trunked a few more stories - maybe my first book could have been like this? Because if you're going to blast your way onto the market with a high fantasy, THIS is the way to do it.

Let me offer a few more reasons why you should go out and get this yourselves the moment it hits the shops.

Firstly, if you want to see a heroine who is (painfully, excruciatingly) realistic in her flaws and self-doubts, and who gradually matures and hardens into an extraordinary woman of courage, power and wisdom (and also the sort of badass who pretends to beg at a traitor's feet so that she can steal the knives out of his boots and then threaten to cut his throat with them) then you will definitely enjoy this book.

If you love far-flung, unpredictable plots which drag the characters through every possible physical and mental test and then come full-circle to allow them to use all they have learned, you will like this book.

If you hate insta-love and you want meaningful relationships (not just romantic ones!) which develop slowly out of respect and knowledge, this book is for you.

If you love richly textured non-standard fantasy settings which are filled with people of all ethnic backgrounds, and dark-skinned heroes and heroines who take leading roles, you want this book.

If you want a book that carefully examines the idea of religious faith and 'God's Will' and which eventually demonstrates that all humans, whether by virtue or weakness, are part of God's plan, then this book will thrill you.

Finally, if you want a book that will make you gasp, and cry, and curl up into a little ball of shattered emotions, a book that will wreck you and then put you back together again with bittersweet grace, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is your book.

I've recommended books to you guys before, books that I loved and admired. But this book? This book I am not recommending. I am *ordering* you to go get it. You need it. You want it. You must have it. Go on. Pre-order it now.

  

15 comments:

need-tea said...

Awesome review! I just request the galley (missed it the first time) and I hope I get approved! I love epic fantasy novels and this one has me salivating. I love deep and gradual relationship, romantic or not.

Gosh, it makes me so intimidated looking at my writing. Yipes. LoL!

Zoë Marriott said...

Krystle: It makes ME intimidated too! But I bet you'll love this.

Christina T said...

I have this from NetGalley too and now I'm even more thrilled to read it.

I have to say that I thought of your books when I saw this one in the NetGalley catalog. Something about the synopsis actually reminded me a little bit of The Daughter of the Flames and that is why I requested it! I hope I will love this book as much as you do. Thanks for your fantastic review!

Christina T said...

Oh, and where did that lovely POC cover come from? On the original US ARC cover it shows a white girl and now on the new US cover, she is also white. I would love this book even more if it is a fantasy with a POC heroine. We definitely need more of those like Shadows on the Moon and Silver Phoenix!

Zoë Marriott said...

Christina: It deals with a lot of the same themes (although in a very distinct, unique and rather more ambitious fashion!). Even the title is a little similar. I hope you like it :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Oh, and yes, Christina - the heroine is a person of colour! All the main characters are, which I LOVED. The second cover (which is the UK one, and you'll note that the title in the UK is just FIRE AND THORNS) is accurate as to the character and setting.

Jane said...

Your review is perfect. I can't wait to read this book. I actually tried to buy an arc, but lost out to other bidders. That's how desperate I was. I have it pre-ordered with my local brick and mortar. Am waiting.

Zoë Marriott said...

I'm glad you think so, Jane - and I bet you'll enjoy a finished copy more in the long run anyway.

Isabel said...

AHHHH!!!

This book was already on my to-read list on Goodreads, but I had absolutely NO IDEA it was this amazing. SQUEEEEE!!!!! I need it NOW!

But it comes out in LATE SEPTEMBER. WHATTT?

Thanks for the awesome review. It sounds exactly like the kind of book I want to write when I grow up. Just reading your review made me feel jealous of the author!

CURSE YOU, ZOE. Why must you write a review for this book TWO MONTHS before the release date???

Zoë Marriott said...

Because I'm trying to create buzz for the book's release, of course! But sorry about the wait, Isabel :)

Isabel said...

Don't worry, it's not your fault. I'm just freaking out because I want this book NOW, and I won't be able to get my hands on it for AAGES!! D:

Ashley said...

WOW! What an AMAZING review! I've heard the title, but didn't know what it was about. Now? Wow. Seriously want! And that second cover- in the desert? LOVE! Way better than the top cover.

Zoe, this is a phenomenal review. I don't really pre-order books, but I'm for sure adding this to my wishlist and shall remember it! It's definitely one I'm going to have to read!! <3

Zoë Marriott said...

Ashley: Considering how much you liked Daughter of the Flames, I'm sure you'll ADORE this, Ash. And I've got to agree about the US vs UK covers, but the current US one is still a definite improvement over the original cover, which was very pretty but looked like a paranormal romance, NOT a high fantasy.

Christina T said...

Just finished reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns last night. Your review was spot on. I was blown away by it. I really appreciate that there is no cliffhanger but I still can't wait for the sequel. Thanks so much for your review!

Zoë Marriott said...

Christina: Hurray! I'm so glad you agree with me - and you are very welcome :)

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