Fire is Kristin Cashore‘s second novel. It’s a prequel to Graceling [which I’ve reviewed here] but stands on its own. Even though the events in Fire happen before Graceling it should nevertheless be read second because otherwise you’ll spoil Graceling.
In the Dells, there are monsters: Animals that look quite normal, except that they are brightly colored and with the power to control the minds of others. Monsters are carnivores with a special hunger for monster meat. Fire is the last of the human monsters. She’s impossibly beautiful, has bright red hair and is jealously guarded by her childhood friend and lover Archer.
Fire would have probably enough on her plate just by being herself – alternately admired and feared by everyone around her and struggling with the memories of a cruel father who used his monsterness for cruelty – but she gets caught up in the young king’s struggle for the throne and has to worry about assassins with weirdly clouded minds.
Fire was a wonderful read. The story is exciting, the characters are wonderful and the romance… *le sigh*
Cashore always manages to write romantic relationships like I would want to have them. Not like I fantasize about somtimes (like Nalini Singh with her dominant-as-hell alpha males), but like I think a healthy relationship should actually be like: mature, built on trust, respectful and with enough personal space. It was like that with Katsa and Po, and it’s like that with Fire and Brigan. [The first 50 pages or so I kept wishing that Archer would not be the love interest because he made me feel so uncomfortable. I guess I have a low threshold for overprotective bullshit.]
The romance aside, I generally loved how Fire handled the men in her life: stating clearly what she wanted and making her own decisions. You go, girl!
Cashore rocks as a writer: Her pacing is pitch-perfect, starting off slowly but pulling you into the story with a tight grip. Her characters are wonderfully drawn, with all their faults and have their room to grow.
I can only recommend it.