Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson

Publisher: Greenwillow (HarperCollins)

Release Date: September 20th, 2011

Interest: High Fantasy

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

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.

I still view myself as a new fan of high fantasy, but I know when it’s done right.  The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is high fantasy done right.

Usually when I’m torn over a book I break it into a list of what worked and what didn’t work.  I’m not torn about this book at all because I LOVED IT, but I’m going to make this review simple and break down everything that is awesome about The Girl of Fire and Thorns into a list.  Sometimes lists are necessary, especially when reviewing a fantastic book.

Everything That Is Awesome About Rae Carson’s Debut:

  • The World Building–I think my friend Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts said it best when she said that the world building in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is similar Kristin Cashore’s world building.  Her use of imagery makes the world come alive on the page and very easy to visualize.  It’s not simple, but it’s not overdone; the reader doesn’t need a map to know where everything is, like in many high fantasy novels.
  • The Premise–I know some readers have been turned off by the fact that the Godstone resides in the bearer’s belly button, but it didn’t bother me.  I like how original the idea is and how it played out in the novel.  I was constantly wondering about the Godstone and what might happen with it, and I was pleasantly surprised at the end.  I like that the reader figures this out with Elisa; it engaged me as a reader and made me feel more connected to Elisa.  Religion plays a large role in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but it isn’t your average book about faith.  Elisa needs to stay faithful and learn to have faith in herself, but the religion is different.  It’s written in such a way that those who may shy away from books with religious themes will probably enjoy this.  The way magic is mixed in to the story gives this religion a different flair.
  • The Characters–Elisa is a breath of fresh air.  She isn’t a perfect, beautiful, graceful character.  She’s fat, unsure of herself, and in many ways naive which makes her more realistic.  The growth of her character is outstanding and so much fun to watch.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching her become strong and independent.  The supporting characters are wonderful.  I particularly enjoyed Lord Hector, Humberto, and Ximena.  They’re vibrant and make the story so much stronger.
  • The Pacing–Many of the high fantasy novels I’ve read are dense in story, lore, background, mythology, etc.  Rae Carson’s novel is lengthy at 424 pages, but it’s fast-paced and easy to read.  Many of the character’s names and the different settings are hard to pronounce, but it didn’t hold me back from enjoying and understanding the story.  I had a hard time putting this one down, especially since the chapters are short and end in just the right way to keep me wanting more.
  • The Ending–No, I’m not going to spoil the outcome of the story.  I’m simply going to say that I’m happy about a “real” ending to a book kicking off a series.  No horrible cliffhanger that makes you want to throw the book.  The ending is perfect because it leaves me satisfied and wanting more at the same time.

If you haven’t read The Girl of Fire and Thorns yet, I highly recommend reading it as soon as possible.  I’m teaching this in my YA Lit II class and couldn’t be happier about it; it’s going to work perfectly in my fantasy unit.  The good thing for those of us who are just now reading this book is that we only have to wait until September 18th for the sequel, The Crown of Embers, to release!


  1. Wow that sounds great! Usually I’m not a high fantasy person, but I really did love Graceling. I’ll put this one my list to check out! Thanks for the review 🙂

  2. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while…this review just bumped it up a notch!

  3. I just finished this book and really liked it too! Thank you for the review – I might have missed this book otherwise!


  1. […] Review:  I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns traditionally and absolutely loved it.  Besides enjoying the narrator, the main reason I decided to listen to The Crown of Embers is […]

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