Monday, 28 November 2011

Review (the Girl of) Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Published: 22nd September 2011
Publisher: Gollancz (UK)
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads description:

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. 

My thoughts:

First of all, I have to comment on the covers. I have to. I try not too, but on this occasion...well. What were you thinking guys?? Seriously, when you all had cover meetings for these books, HOW were these approved? The UK cover (above) makes it look like some bad movie about a desert trek and the US one makes me feel like I'm on an acid trip or something. did you all sign off on these? WHAT was the design brief??? /rant.

So, I was really torn over this book. I didn't really like Elisa, and whilst I did like the fact she was overweight, I'm not entirely sure that aspect was handled in a very good way. Especially her 'transformation' I dunno, I kinda felt it gave the wrong message? Having never been overweight I can't really judge, so I genuinely don't know what to think of this whole part of the book. 

The plot of this book was actually my favourite bit. I'm always a bit wary of books with religious elements but this one was completely unoffensive. I loved the journey in it, the mysteries and confusion, the battles, the different tribes, it was all really interesting to read. I liked that nothing came easily, everything was a fight, there were no 'easy' solutions and I really did not expect that ending! I also thought the world building was clever, there were definitely Moroccan and Spanish influences to this fantasy world which I really liked, it made it feel both more realistic and very exotic. 

What did let the book down for me was the characters. I didn't really like or care about any of them, so when something bad happened I was just like "meh". I thought some of what happened to the characters were really brave moves by the author, but at the same time I didn't much care about that, either.  It wasn't necessarily that they were two-dimensional, I think it was more because the story is told from Elisa's POV, who I didn't like, and therefore struggled to like anyone talked about by her...

I'm feeling very middle of the road about this book, so it's getting a middle of the road rating from me. I think if you're a lover of fantasy it's definitely something to add to the TBR, and I am glad I read it, it wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't a mind-blowing read either. 


  1. I must agree with you on that cover. It's just.... no. Not something that would capture my attention to want to read the synopsis. And YA covers sorta speak a different language to adult ones and this does not strike me as YA at all :/ Unfortunate!

    It's a shame you couldn't get with Elisa, since connecting with the heroine is vital to loving a story. The plot and mythology sounds really intriguing, though. And I like how you say there are no 'easy solutions' - I enjoy characters having to work and devise clever strategies to survive. Great review, Cait!

  2. I'm excited to get to this one so I hope it holds up to my expectations.

  3. I agree about the cover. It wouldn't make me want to pick it up. Luckily I had heard such good things about the book, to help me make up mind.

  4. I don't like the cover either. I like the ARC much better but the girl doesn't seem to look like the protagonist. I've heard about its interesting plot though, maybe I'll try this some time.

  5. I totally laughed at your descriptions of the UK cover, since that's exactly what I thought when i saw it. I'm sorry you didn't like this one very much. I hate it when I don't connect with the characters; it throws the whole book off for me. Thanks for your honesty! :)

  6. Haha, I love your cover comments... It looks like a movie poster for some action film in the desert. I almost expected to see the 'STARRING ________' at the bottom of it.

    Sorry this book was so meh for you :/ It's always really hard for me to like a book when the characters aren't ones I can relate to as well. Great honest review though! :) It was nice to get a different perspective on this one.


  7. Agree completely about the covers...just what were they thinking? Usually I have a clear preference in UK/US covers, but I really don't like either... It's a shame you didn't love this one and couldn't really connect to the main character. I'm not sure whether to read it now - I do love fantasy but I find it hard to enjoy books where it all seems a bit meh. Thanks for the review :).

  8. The UK cover is totally different than the US cover. I agree the desert thing is a little weird. People seem to love or hate Elisa. I really liked her - I related to her lack of self-confidence and weight issues and loved seeing her transformation. The plot definitely was fascinating.


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