I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about Rae Carson’s PHENOMENAL Fire and Thorns trilogy since I finished reading an ARC of The Bitter Kingdom a couple weeks ago. Then I got sidetracked with my own writing dramas and nearly forgot.
Never fear, I am here now to talk about these books and why I think you should all pick them up pronto. No excuses.
Oh, the romance I have with these books! It’s been a little over a year since I first picked up The Girl of Fire and Thorns — on a whim due to a particularly glowing review from a fellow YA fiend — and I have salivated for each subsequent sequel since.
As series go, this one starts off at a wonderful place. Elisa — magic stone entrusted princess and role model for all girls who’ve glowered in the shadow of a gorgeous and slim sibling — is married off to the a rather handsome, but slightly weak spirited king, at sixteen. Her life quickly turns upside down and sideways as everything she ever knew about herself is brought into question. The first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, is an introduction to Elisa, the magic in her world, the stakes against her, and the beautiful tentativeness of first love.
The journey continues in The Crown of Embers. Elisa is now Queen Regent, her understanding of the power in her Godstone grows, just as her responsibility to her people in the terrible war against the Inviernos and their black-magic. In the midst of grappling with all this, Elisa is falling in love with someone she really can’t have, and we all suffer right along with her. Note: I have discussed this many times on my blog. The make-out scene in this novel is deserving of a re-read. Or ten. I read it again just now.
In the final chapter of this saga, The Bitter Kingdom, we follow Elisa to the gate of the enemy, as she wields a dangerous and volatile power with grave and unpredictable consequences, all to save her land and her love. It’s harrowing, certainly, but mixed with such heart and vibrancy I was invigorated until the wee hours of the night reading. I especially enjoyed the relationship she develops with a horse she wants to hate, as well as a slave girl she takes under her wing. It’s a satisfying end to a series I didn’t want to see end. There is also plenty of delicious romance to make your toes curl and your stomach flip-flop. Ya know, if you like that sort of thing.
Elisa is a heroine I love and admire. Her evolution over the series created an allegiance few have managed with me. In fact, her fierce loyalty and sense of duty is a quality I am drawn to in real life, and something I long to exhibit more accurately myself.
As a writer, I choose books for all sorts of reasons. Research. Swoony boys. World-building. But above all, a book must make me feel. It must take me out of my own world, and the ping of my pinball thoughts, long enough to stop picking my nails and start smiling again. If a book can do that, I will love it forever. I will carry it with me into conversations. I will push it into hands, and write about it on my blog.
Rae Carson managed that so beautifully with these books, that my conscience won’t allow me not to talk about it. And it’s why I’m threatening you (however emptily, because hello, this is the internet) to read them or else.
Read them. They can be found through Indiebound.org as well as most larger online retailers. Or go to your local bookstore. If they don’t have it at your local bookstore, demand why. I did this at mine, and the bookseller kindly explained they had sold out. OK, acceptable.
Write me when you get to that scene in The Crown of Embers. We’ll swoon together.