Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson
Date of Publication: September 20 2011
Pages: 423
Source: Library

Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.


There are a lot of things to like about The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and it is likely that I will read the sequel. That is mostly based on the love this series gets, and my appreciation for the positives in The Girl of Fire and Thorn, and my expectations that the weaknesses will be improved upon.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns does something many fantasy books don't: it strays from glamour. It is gritty in a very mundane way. It is about a girl that does not appear flawless and this consciousness of the main character's body is consistent. It's not even that Elisa believes she is fat and constantly comments on her size. Elisa's aches and pains are mentioned as she grows through hard journeys, and she somehow does get injured. Her body is a part of the story and I suppose it's strange to be so shocked at this but honestly, body awareness in books does not exist unless the character is involved in some sort of romance. And that's new.

Elisa is a main character that I don't feel very strongly about. She is good with children, and she is very real. She is able to admit when she is wrong and she is a very thoughtful character. My only complaint about Elisa is that her transformation and growth felt too fast. The character development wasn't as strong as I would have liked, and the key to this is what I would have liked because I generally appreciate detail. Steps forward, steps back, etc. And it's quite possible that these steps occurred because Rae Carson sped through some time. It could be that she decided scenes like this would not be relevant to her story, and that's completely valid. But I would have liked those details into Elisa's change, because she does change, and maybe I would appreciate it more with some more details. My comparison would be Clara in Winterspell.

The fantasy style in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is what I call light fantasy. All the basic elements of fantasy are included and reasonably explained. There is magic and kingdoms, and the world isn't overly explained because Elisa knows very little. This means there is some black and whiteness happening, but I did like that there were some moral questions about the costs of a revolution and allowing people to die. I suppose that's what the rest of the series is for.

One interesting aspect is the inclusion of God. I felt like that was almost taboo in YA if you're not reading Christian Lit, so to have a character pray to God and be so devout is fascinating. Especially because religion is not a big part of my life, but I did grow up with some religious instruction, and reading about Elisa's relationship with her spirituality was so creative and different.

There are enough of these little elements of originality that give me hope for this series. Based on some of the comments for Crown of Embers, Carson's books improve, and so I'm excited to continue with this series. Regardless of some of my qualms about the actual story of this first book, there is a lot to like. 3 stars, because I liked it.



  1. This is one of those books that got lost in the melee of my uncontrollable tbr. Light fantasy is probably more of my forte, so I'm glad this book/series has that going for it. Yet another reason to unearth my copy. :)

    1. Yup, I saw this book everywhere and figured it deserved a try. And I'm glad that you like light fantasy. Enjoy!


  2. Aaahhh, GOFAT is one of our favorite series. (And the acronym amuses us for its irony, hehe.) Truth be told, the series just gets better as it goes. We do enjoy this first installment, but the second and third build upon all the strengths and really flesh out Elisa and her companions. Plus, the gusty moves that Rae Carson shows off in this book? Oh man, they just get gutsier.

    And yes, we agree that the body awareness and use of religion are so, so fascinating and unique in this series.

  3. I feel like this series definitely gets better as you read on, so stick with it P.E!
    I remember I didn't think much of Elisa in the first book either, but I'm pretty sure she becomes a much more likeable character as the books go on :)


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