Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: YA fantasy
Publisher: Dial Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from author’s publicist
First line: Larch often thought that if it had not been for his newborn son, he never would have survived his wife Mikra’s death.
When I finished Graceling earlier this year, I was disappointed to learn that Cashore’s next book would be a prequel, rather than a sequel continuing Katsa’s story. I have this obsessive thing about reading stories in order. However, I loved the world Kristin Cashore created in Graceling so much that when I was offered an ARC of the prequel, Fire, I happily agreed. I received the book very quickly, and I loved the cover. I put it in my TBR stack and there it sat. And sat. And sat. I read rave reviews, and still it sat. For some reason, I hesitated to pick it up. Would it really be as good as Graceling? Could I get past the fact that it was a (shudder) prequel?
Well, the release date for Fire came and went a couple weeks ago, and I started to feel guilty. After all, I’d had the book for months! So, I picked it up a little over a week ago, and believe me when I say it was only my incredibly busy schedule that kept me from devouring it in a couple of days.
As much as I adored Katsa, I loved the character of Fire even more. Fire is the last remaining human monster in a world where monsters are beautiful and dangerous. Monsters exist in all species, with vibrant colors, vicious appetites, and the ability to force their way into other minds. Fire’s father Cansrel was a human monster; her mother a human. Cansrel took full advantage of his monster abilities and controlled the kingdom through King Nax. But now Cansrel and Nax are dead, Nax’s son Nash is king, and the kingdom is on the verge of war.
Fire lives on her estate near Lord Archer, her best friend and sometime lover. Archer and his father Brocker have known Fire since she was a child. They know how her monster side terrifies her, how hard she works to never take advantage of it, how difficult it is to always have to protect herself from the desire or lust or hatred her beauty and ability provoke.
So far, Fire has never used her ability against a person’s will, but when King Nash and his brother, Prince Brigan, ask her to come to King’s City and use her abilities to help them win the war against the two evil lords waiting to divide the kingdom, she is faced with a decision. Can she use her ability in this way and hold onto her humanity? Or will it turn her into the kind of monster her father was?
Kristin Cashore has the amazing ability to create a completely real and believable world. The vivid colors of the monsters, the gray rockiness of The Dells, the vibrant exuberance of King’s City – I could see it all. She is also able to write strong female characters. Fire is strong, but vulnerable and full of compassion. She is forced to make so many decisions during the course of the book – decisions about her own future, about her relationships, about her ability.
One character from Graceling plays a huge part in Fire‘s story – and fills in his own back story. Apart from that, though, this book is truly its own story set in its own world – a world I completely enjoyed immersing myself in. I stayed up way too late last night finishing it – and was wiping away tears when I turned the last page.
Highly recommended – a truly wonderful read.
(The Amazon link in this post is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive a tiny percentage.)