Rating: 4/5 stars.
On her sixteenth birthday, Elisa has become the bride and secret wife of a wealthy and attractive king. This doesn’t do anything to make her feel more affluent or powerful like it should. Instead, she struggles even more to fulfill the quest she has been chosen for – chosen by the Godstone within her, by the God who only selects one person per century. As her political and personal conflicts exacerbate, Elisa must do whatever she can to defeat her foes, or she will fail the prophecy trying.
I was not expecting to enjoy this book. High fantasy has never been one of my favorite genres, but The Girl of Fire and Thorns won me over. The world-building was convincing and the plot kept my attention. Each side character, while not wonderfully developed, contributed something essential to the story.
Elisa, the protagonist, earned my respect. She started out as a plump princess who had an undying love for pastries, but develops into an independent, confident, and charismatic queen. Carson’s characterization of her was never “pity me, people judge me because I’m fat” or manipulative. Rather, she tackled the prominence of Elisa’s physical traits and her emotional growth smoothly and tactfully.
The only ostentatious issue I had with The Girl of Fire and Thorns was Elisa’s relationship with Alexander. I understand how influential first impressions can be, but I never really believed in their relationship. (view spoiler)
Overall, a strong debut from Rae Carson. I recommend this book to fans of young-adult fantasy, and I am looking forward to reading The Crown of Ember.