Rating: 5/5 stars.
Females! Young-adult females! And males, too, I suppose – drop what you’re reading and check this series out. Or finish what you’re reading and then check it out, as Rae Carson has come into her own with The Crown of Embers. Similar to the Mortal Instruments trilogy, the first book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy (The Girl of Fire and Thorns) didn’t win me over, but its sequel did. Boy, it did.
In The Crown of Embers Elisa continues her quest to fulfill the duty given to her by her Godstone. As queen of her kingdom, one might expect this to be easy – but it is anything other than that. Riots begin to break out as some are dissatisfied with her rule, enemies emerge from inside and outside of her palace, and her confidence wavers as even her allies seem to conspire against her. After a failed attempt on her life, Elisa decides to embark on a journey to redeem herself and revitalize her country – before it is too late.
Elisa has earned her spot amongst my favorite female protagonists. She’s not a Mary Sue reincarnate, but she’s not an unrealistically kick-butt heroine either. She learns from her mistakes and possesses a patriotism alongside her personal compassion that pushes her forward. As a seventeen-year-old, Elisa manages to act her age and exceed what’s expected of her as well.
The plot entranced me enough to keep me reading for three hours straight instead of doing my government homework. The Crown of Embers blends political intrigue, palace politics, and good old high fantasy action and adventure to create a winning combination. Everything worked effectively and the cliffhanger made me internally scream in frustration.
I give the romance in this book 6/5 stars – I ship Hector and Elisa so hard. Finally, a young-adult romance that’s not, “okay, we just met twenty pages ago, but I am already irrevocably in love with you.” Elisa and Hector’s relationship is built on respect, trust, and companionship. They didn’t rush their feelings, which made it much more rewarding because every time they acted on their emotions I squealed. The cliffhanger only exacerbated my affection for them and I am almost dying to see whether they will make it or not.
Overall, I cannot wait for The Bitter Kingdom. This series has become an unexpected and unappreciated favorite. I hope more people decide to pick it up, because it is definitely worth it.