The Girl of Fire and Thorns Rae Carson
So, I had heard good things about this one but had no desire to pick it up until ALA when Katie decided it was her mission in life to get me to read this book. So I did. THANK GOD FOR FRIENDS LIKE KATIE.
Elisa is the younger princess. She lacks the beauty, grace, charm, and political savvy of her older sister. But Elisa is the chosen one, blessed with the Godstone in her navel at her naming ceremony.
But it is Elisa, who is married off to a neighboring kingdom as part of a treaty to join forces against the invading North. But in her new home, her husband keeps their relationship a secret. There are political games afoot she doesn't understand.
And she wonders what service God has destined for her. She is the chosen one, but chosen for what?
And when she's kidnapped by rebels and sees the truth of what's happening on the borders, she must find a physical, mental, and emotional strength she doesn't think she has.
Here are a few of the reasons why this book is totally awesome:
1. Excellent court intrigue.
2. Fast-moving and gripping plot, without being completely plot-driven.
3. Elisa's a great character. She has her limitations and is real, but never annoying. She has sister issues, but even when she wallows in them, she's trying to learn from them.
4. The way Carson handles lurve interests. They're a very MINOR part of the book (HALLELUJAH!) and I must admit I was very surprised by who she ends up with in the end. You won't see it coming. You'll wonder why more YA books don't do the same thing.
5. The way Carson handles religion. Religion is HUGE in this book (I mean, Elisa has been chosen by God. How could it not be?) It seems vaguely Catholic and Elisa finds such comfort and joy in worship, even as she struggles with the path God has given her. I love the ramifications of differing interpretations of the holy texts. I love the perversion of how the enemy practices. I love that's it not faith-based fiction, but religion is painted in a very positive light. It's something we don't see a lot of and Carson does it so very very well.
6. You know how most fantasies are set in a land and culture that is vaguely European? This one is Latin America. The dwellings are adobe and sandstone. Their skin is darker, their hair black. The northern barbarians are weird and scary with their blue eyes and light hair. Their names are Elisa, Alejandro, Ximena. It's awesome. Not just because we need SO MUCH MORE of this in our fiction, especially fantasy, but because the change of location was very refreshing.
7. Ok, apparently this is going to be a trilogy, but this book stands 100% alone. I will read the others because I loved this so much, but I don't need the others.
Overall, just freaking wonderful.
Book Provided by... my local library
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