About the Book

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)
Published: 2011
Series: Girl of Fire and Thorns
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Straight Up With a Holy Twist
Bonus Factors: Tasty Business, Guerrilla Warfare
Anti-Bonus Factor: The Godstone
Relationship Status: Vacation Buddy

The Deal:

Like many little girls, I totally wanted to be a princess when I grew up. You can blame it partly on Disney, but my name (Sarah) actually MEANS princess, so as far as I was concerned, I was destined to wear cone hats and eat delicate pastries while singing songs with my animal friends. I practiced by dressing up like a princess four Halloweens in a row, including 1984, with my own custom-designed, one of a kind, crayon paper crown:

Sarah at age 5, wearing a paper crown and a Mexican dress, sitting next to her dad, who has clown make-up on and is wearing suspenders and a rainbow tie plus a brown wig
Don’t mind that creepy clown. That’s actually my dad, who is the least creepy person in the world.

Anyway, the point is, I like making up reasons to post pictures of myself when I was a super cute kid. And also, I still kind of want to be a princess, especially by way of marriage to Prince Harry. But I have the feeling that Princess Elisa, the Girl of Fire and Thorns, would totally disagree with me. Sure, she gets to hang out in the palace and read all day and raid the kitchen whenever she wants, but she also has to marry a total stranger on her sixteenth birthday. And then there’s the business of her Godstone, a gem that miraculously appeared in her belly button during her dedication day as a baby. (Trust me, it’s just as weird for me to type that as it is for you to read it.) According to church history, the Godstone marks Elisa for a work of incredible service to her people, but she has no idea what that means or if she can actually handle it. Unlike her stately, beautiful older sister, Elisa fears the spotlight and hides behind her books and copious amounts of food until her marriage to the handsome King Alejandro de Vega forces her to leave the palace and move to Brisadulce. The minute the carriage sets off for her new home, Elisa begins to discover her potential, and it takes her to the very heart of a devastating war.

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

From the very first page of the book, my heart went out to Elisa, but that doesn’t mean I actually wanted to, you know, hang out with her. The girl has some serious self-esteem issues, mostly revolving around her body. Overweight heroines aren’t really common in YA, and while I appreciated Elisa’s perspective, I got really annoyed at how easily she gave up on herself. Also, it IS possible to gain confidence without losing any of your body fat, and it pained me that Elisa didn’t really come into her own until after she’d lost some weight. But with that said, by the end of the book, I really admired her courage and intelligence, and I’m glad she didn’t lose her love of food, because we are SO trading lunches in the caf.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Unlike in most romance novels, Elisa’s arranged marriage to the King isn’t a real source of sparkage. Lucky for her, she meets Humberto, a kind, humble dude who bravely guides her through adventures I shall not spoil for you. Humberto is sweet, and he’s great for Elisa, but he’s not the type to make me all hot and bothered. I’ve reserved that honor for Lord Hector, a member of the King’s guard who’s got this whole strong, handsome, man of few words thing going on. I suspect we’ll see more of his hotness in the next book.

Talky Talk: Straight Up With a Holy Twist

This book is definitely a fantasy, but Carson manages to avoid all of that Tolkien description overkill while still crafting a unique world. She also doesn’t go off the deep end with endless magical creatures (spoiler alert: THERE ARE NO FAERIES IN THIS BOOK KTHX), and it’s refreshing to read about a girl with regular teenage problems (self-image, social awkwardness) amidst a backdrop far from ordinary. The amount of religion in this book came as a surprise to me, but it’s not a tract-wielding, altar call kind of faith, so it never felt preachy. Overall, Carson’s style reads easily and quickly, although I think some extra editing and tightening would have made this sprawling epic more compelling.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

Serving platter with fancy bite-sized appetizers

It’s AWESOME to read a book about a girl who loves food as much as I do. Like, if Elisa had the internet in her world, she would totally be a food blogger, because she’s always sharing enticing details about what she’s eating. In spite of all of the shizz she deals with in this book, Elisa has renewed my dream of being a princess, just so I can live in a castle with a kitchen that’s always open. Or… maybe I’ll just get a private chef and skip the whole royal responsibility thing.

Bonus Factor: Guerrilla Warfare

Screenshot of the villagers in Three Amigos

Who doesn’t love it when a rag tag band of underdogs takes on a Goliath? Elisa eventually becomes involved in a Santo Poco situation (except the stakes are much, much higher), and the scrappy villagers earned a LOT of fist pumps from yours truly.

Anti-Bonus Factor: The Godstone

Three troll dolls, with neon long hair and shiny gems in their belly buttons

You guys, I’m sorry. Maybe it’s my distaste for belly button piercing, but Elisa’s Godstone gave me the HEEBIE JEEBIES. Not only did it just appear in her belly button, but it warms up when she prays and grows cold when there’s danger nearby. THAT IS WEIRD. Plus it made it really hard for me to not picture her with crazy neon hair.

Relationship Status: Vacation Buddy

I needed to escape real life for a while, and when this book offered to take me on a trip, I happily agreed. We had some kickass adventures together and enjoyed a TON of food, which is pretty much my only requirement* for a vacation. There wasn’t any real chemistry between us, and I have the feeling that my memories of our trip will quickly fade, but I’m thankful to it for yanking me out of my ordinary world for a while. And I’ll probably renew my passport when the sequel comes knockin’ on my door.

*In addition to cocktails, OBVS. And hot cabana boys don’t hurt.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy from HarperCollins.I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (dammit!).

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.