In a world full of beautiful monsters that can bend men to their own will, Fire is that most dangerous of things – a human monster. Exceptionally beautiful and irresistible to all those who cannot guard their minds against her, she could even make men stick a knife in their own eye if she wished. But Fire is afraid of her huge capacity for power and influence, having seen her father abuse his own power so extremely that he almost brought about the downfall of the kingdom for his own amusement. Under her attractiveness, Fire is struggling with her own morality. She lives far away from court, afraid of both her influence and those people who hate her for it. Yet trouble is brewing in the Dells, a generation paying for their fathers’ mistakes, and Fire must master her own power to protect her home.
I’m of the opinion that Graceling was good, but not great. I think I should mention that so you have some context for this review, because I thought that Fire definitely was amazing.
Fire was stunningly crafted and filled with an array of excellent characters. There was a depth to even minor characters, making for a truly believable tale. It’s not hard to believe that these characters have an existence outside of the limited page space given them in the story. Fire herself was a great main character, both interesting and likeable. She’s also incredibly strong, battling the guilt of her own existence, unsure of her place in her world.
I’m beginning to get the impression that Kristin Cashore is incredibly interested in the psychological effects of events, rarely investigated in young adult fantasy. Cashore marries classic elements of fantasy – fighting for a kingdom, love, huge climactic events – with smaller, more individual elements – confusion, loss, subtle power shifts, – producing some of the most realistic fantasy I’ve ever read.
I love this world that Fire lives in, with its beautiful but deadly monsters. The country itself is completely unstable, establishing a world fraught with everyday dangers. It is so rare that a book combines all of these elements so successfully, and it engaged me completely. The plotting was nicely done, and although I predicted most of the revelations early on, still it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it at all. For me, Fire was almost a perfect fantasy novel.
Also, just look at that cover! I mean, how could anyone resist!? (This is written as a YA book in the US, but for some reason, it's printed as an adult fantasy in the UK, so you'll find it in the adult sci-fi/fantasy section instead of the teenage one.)