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Fire lives in a country known as the Dells, and she is a human monster. There’s a strain of wildness in the country that leaves some of the animals and people with impossibly seductive beauty and power. Fire is so named because of her hair. She can enter minds and control people and animals. But she is constantly in danger because other monsters want to prey on her and other people either love her or hate her too much.
She does have a small group of friends that are like family though, and her world, while small, is as safe as she can make it. Yet she chafes against it. When she is invited to King’s City to discuss how her power could be used to prevent a civil war from erupting, she jumps at the chance to go, despite the personal danger she puts herself in.
I’ll get my complaints out of the way first.
Leck (from Graceling) is worked into this story and he does not fit. I don’t see any purpose to his character at all. I kept expecting something more from that storyline but it just fizzled out. It is entirely possible though that I’ve forgotten something from Graceling that would have made it apparent why he needed to be in this story.
The other thing is about Fire herself. I loved her as a character. She has almost limitless power yet she’s afraid of herself. She has not had an easy life by any means, yet she does try her best to help where she can. She loves those in her circle with a love so intense that it’s almost scary. She is willing to lay her own life on the line for them.
But about three-quarters of the way through the book, she has a melt-down. Mind you, I understand exactly where she’s coming from when I sit back to think about what brought it on. But it came on so quickly that my initial, and lasting, reaction, is more of a “What the heck? Have you lost your mind, girl? Pull on the big girl panties and deal.” Had there been a little more buildup to it, I wouldn’t have reacted as badly, but I never quite got back to the same place with her.
But Brigan is another matter altogeter. I wish that he’d had a more fortuitous entry to the story, because it was so bad that it keeps niggling at me, but he is just…wow. It’s worth reading just for him alone.
I wasn’t fully aware of any parts dragging out, but my attention definitely wandered through a few sections. I would find myself checking Twitter on my phone or glancing at emails while I had the book open in front of me.
Those things aside, I did really like this. The characters who were likeable weren’t too perfect and the bad guys were mostly bad with only a couple who were more complicated. I liked how twisted up all the relationships became, and I liked seeing Fire grow into herself. Well, at least I did until that meltdown I mentioned earlier.
Oh, one thing I feel like I have to mention. If you’re bothered by premarital sex and birth control of all kinds, you’re going to dislike this book. It’s not anything graphic by any means, but I know there was some kerfuffle over Graceling. I didn’t mind it at all, but it’s there, so avoid this one if you don’t want to read that kind of thing.
Fans of Graceling, obviously, and other fantasy books with strong central women, will enjoy this one.
Read an excerpt.
My review of Graceling.
Find author Kristin Cashore on her blog.
Buy Fire at
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.