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The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson
Gollancz, 432 pages

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson
Rae Carson dabbled in many things, from teaching to corporate sales to customer service to architecture, before becoming a full-time writer. Originally from California, she lives in Columbus, OH. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is her first novel.

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A review by Katherine Petersen

Most characters that populate young adult fantasy novels are beautiful, strong, secure and/or smart. Princess Lucero-Elisa, the heroine of Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns, possesses none of these traits or at least doesn't think she does, and I think that's one of the reasons I liked her so much from the start. Elisa is fat, insecure and pales in comparison to her older sister when it comes to playing political games and socializing with strangers. So, she's terrified when she is to secretly marry Alejandro, the leader of a neighboring kingdom in the midst of its turmoil.

But Elisa is a Chosen One with a Godstone in her belly, and she will have to find herself and her purpose soon or die young as so many of the Chosen do. Different people want to possess the Godstone, some are dangerous and some including a revolutionary, who looks at Elisa as no one else has, thinks she can save his people. Elisa faces deception, adventure, hardship on a rollicking ride of self-discovery.

Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns doesn't start off with a bang, but this young adult fantasy is well worth sticking with for the long haul. While Carson's writing style doesn't amaze, the characters and plot do, pulling the reader in to Elisa's world.

Elisa is a perfect example of a girl-next-door heroine with whom many of us can relate. Carson doesn't overwhelm with details but gives her world enough depth that it is believable as well. From the luxury of Alejandro's home to the shifting sands of the desert, Carson and Elisa take the reader with them on her journeys as if were participants in the story and not just observers on the sidelines.

Carson has created a strong supporting cast for Elisa as well, from her nurse/protector, Ximena; to her own maid, Cosme; and Lord Hector, Alejandro's second-in-command. The story takes place over a fairly long period of time but Carson handles the pacing beautifully. Once the story picks up speed, Carson drops some hints but the plot take some surprising twists and remains suspenseful until the end. Fans of The Hunger Games and Blood Red Road will enjoy this tale, and I'm having a hard time waiting for the sequel which isn't out for another year.

Copyright © 2011 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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