Fire and Thorns. Book review

FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. Gollancz £18.99

Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

As a baby, Princess Elisa was given a gift by God: the Godstone. She bears it without questioning her heritage, trusting her upbringing to those around her and following God’s will in all she does. Now, it is Elisa’s sixteenth birthday, and her wedding day. Pledged to a man she doesn’t know in order to broker a political alliance with another kingdom, Elisa must pack up her life and leave her family.

Princess Elisa is not a common protagonist. She is fat, lazy and jealous of her sister. She is scared of her future and afraid she will not fulfil her potential. She is blindly devout and believes herself to be a coward. She takes great delight in spending her time comfort eating and self-deprecating. But it is the breaking of the conventional teenage heroine that succeeds in this book. She has so much more to overcome and so, as she begins to understand her purpose, the story unfolds on a deeper level.

Carson exhibits well-controlled present tense action throughout this debut novel and its strength relies on the reader journeying with Elisa and seeing the world and its struggles through her eyes. We live the trials and tragedies with her and this experience elevates this book from the landscape of average young adult fiction.