Rae Carson is without a doubt my favorite author discovery of 2016. I went gaga over Walk the Earth a Stranger (still not over that terrible title) and The Girl of Fire and Thorns did not disappoint. (Many thanks to Malin for the rec!)
This is a coming of age story about a smart and timid girl becoming a wise and powerful woman. She’s the second born daughter of a king and was chosen for greatness at her birth. The problem is that she doesn’t feel remarkable and hides herself away from the outside world. That all changes on her sixteenth birthday when she becomes the secret wife of the neighboring king. I don’t want to say much more about where the story goes because there are so many surprising left turns that I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone. Let’s just say the narrative doesn’t go where you think it’s going to go.
Carson excels at creating great characters and then putting them into addicting plots. I tore through this 423 page book in just a day or two because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I appreciate that she resists simplicity. All the characters, bad or good, have realistic motivations that make sense. Just because it’s young adult, doesn’t mean things have to be simple.
There are a lot of things happening here that are different from most fantasy out there. It’s based on a hispanic influenced culture, the main character deals with realistic body issues, and the story contemplates what it means to be religious. The Girl of Fire and Thorns was refreshing as hell and I hope you pick it up if you’re into fantasy or teenage girls kicking ass.