I got a little distracted this week from the book I was reading due to some personal goings-on this week. Today, I finished my book, and I am excited to tell you about it. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is beautiful and fascinating, and very hard to describe.
Elisa is the second Princess in the kingdom of Orovalle. She has spent her years devoted to religious studies of the Scriptura Sancta. Due to a religious prophecy, Elisa was endowed on her naming day with a Godstone in her navel, the sign of the chosen one of God. She is on her way to meet with her arranged husband-to-be, the King Alejandro of Joya d’Arena. Their impending nuptials will ensure him a power beyond imagining in a violent war brewing between Joya d’Arena and their enemies.
Elisa is a complicated heroine. At first she is a child, subject to the whims and vices of youth. Her older sister, Juana-Alodia, has instilled in her numerous complexes about her unsuitability to be Queen. As a result of her poor self-confidence, Elisa has developed an eating disorder that prompts her to stuff herself silly whenever anyone makes disparaging remarks about her. At least, that seems to be the trigger. Whether she has a food addiction, or some other neurosis entirely, Elisa concentrates a lot of her energy on, well…eating. Throughout the course of this book Elisa faces a number of trials that forces her to shed the skin of childhood and grow into a woman. Very early on in the book she is captured by rebels who want to use her as a pawn in the war. Elisa develops Stockholm Syndrome as she begins to know the captors, particularly Humberto, the dark and generous one.
Elisa’s journey is captivating and remarkable. The religious mythos that Carson has created is layered, and complex, and engrossing. It’s very rich, and very, very addictively readable. I loved so much about this book. It’s great to see how Elisa comes into her own, becomes empowered, and grows into a believable young woman who will be a joy to follow throughout this series. Like I said, it’s very hard to describe, but I will say this – it’s one of the most unique books I have read in a very long time. Carson is going to acquire an interesting cadre of fangirls and boys out of this one.
Also, Carson did the thing that I have been wanting YA authors to do for ages…The plot point…and I’m not going to tell any of you what it was. We’ll talk about it after the release date.
5 out of 5 stars. It’s awesome.
– Follow the Reader –
* The Girl of Fire and Thorns releases September 20th, 2011.
Sidenote: I have my issues with the cover design of this book. The above covers are different variations on what ended up being the final design, which is the first, topmost one. The second one is the original ARC cover (which is on my copy) and the last one is from the UK edition (which is my favourite. It’s the most appropriate thematically). I hated the ARC cover once I got to know the character. Elisa begins this book rather large and the cover model clearly is not fat. The design that they chose seems to be a compromise on HarperCollins part…we wouldn’t want to see a fat girl on the cover, now would we. I am a little disturbed about the whitewashing of this character but I am glad, in a way, that they did not release the second one. That they only gave a cameo stylized image of Elisa’s face is another issue. It’s still a way of hiding Elisa’s size (even though she loses weight throughout the course of the book). I really wish that the cover released would have better reflected the character in the book, that she might be of a larger size. It seems cowardly, despite being good or bad marketing. That is all.