The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Posted November 21, 2019 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

by Rae Carson

Series: Fire and Thorns #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books on September 20, 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

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.


The Girl of Fire and Thorns hit me immediately with some fantastic high fantasy vibes and I was so excited to start it!  I knew going in that this book would have a “chosen one” and I really like how Rae Carson worked with the trope to make it feel less exhausted.  I wouldn’t say it was a perfect book, but it was pretty good!

The setting in this book was refreshing in its variety.  We have two coastal kingdoms, with prosperous tradeports, and yet, there’s no focus on the sea.  We spend most our time in deserts or forests.  Carson does a good job of not only making her reader see the elements of her setting, but remembering the challenges and following through with them.  Characters are from a variety of classes in The Girl of Fire and Thorns and there were a few moments that stood out really well to make this clear.  In particular, there was a scene where the characters are allowed to “freshen up” and it’s only then that her travelling companions remember Elisa is a princess as she returns in court finery.  It’s interesting how material things set the classes apart, even these days… I thought the way she wrote Elisa as a princess was really well done.

That said, Elisa definitely wasn’t perfect.  While I appreciated her reactions to things and the moments of human realness that Carson incorporated to make her feel a bit more raw… Elisa was very changeable.  I know people who are like this, so I know it’s not a badly written character necessarily, but how quickly and easily Elisa changed her mind and alliances to suit her current situation – and then immediately believed them with all her heart – was a bit frustrating.  As a reader, I think I would have liked to see a bit more of Elisa struggle when it came to her political ideals.

It would be impossible to talk about The Girl of Fire and Thorns without talking about religion.  Religion is a large part of this book.  Elisa is a Bearer, which means a Godstone was bestowed upon her and placed in her navel at her christening and it means she has a divine purpose in this world and will serve in some way.  She spends a lot of the book praying for guidance, for strength, or simply just praying because her Godstone warms her body when she does so, like a happy cat.  There’s a bit of theological discussion about faith as well.  Religion weaves into a lot of different fantasy, but The Girl of Fire and Thorns stood out to me because it is 1.) very present; and 2.) a monotheistic fantasy religion.  Which are less common.

There were definitely some transition and pacing issues to me where I had to stop and recount exactly where Elisa was now and how it happened.  And on the other hand, there were scenes that felt like they dragged on and on.  There were quite a few “convenient” things that happened to move Elisa where the author wanted her to be, and they stood out to me.  Otherwise, it’s a perfectly enjoyable novel with a unique magic system.

I think what I liked best about The Girl of Fire and Thorns was the way it mixed old tropes with original ideas.  It was enough to make the book feel fresh and unique.  It’s worth a read for fantasy fans.  I can’t promise anything mind blowing, but I don’t think it’s a waste of time, either.  I’m curious enough to keep reading!


Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Writing: ★★★★
Narrator: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★


How do you feel about religion and fantasy?  A lot of fantasy writers have religion of some sort in their books because of the reliance of mythology on gods, but some people are really turned off by it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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