Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy
Series: Graceling Realm #2 (Can be read as Standalone)
This review will contain NO SPOILERS for this book or the previous one. But the novel itself will spoil Graceling so I recommend reading that one first.
Fire is a spin-off to Graceling, and tells the story of Fire, a girl with hair the colour of flame. She’s a ‘human monster’, the only one left, with the ability to influence minds. She loved by some and hated by other. And her powers may be of use to her kingdom which is on the brink of war.
It’s quite a different story than the previous book. And a different world too. Nonetheless, I liked it almost as much as the first one. Which is a big deal because I adored Graceling.
Because it’s different, it’s better than the first book in some ways and not-better in others. It is better written, with a better emotional connection. Except for the scene in which Fire meets the king and the prince. That scene needs a rewrite.
Anyway, outside comparisons, the book introduces many new characters. Some you like instantly, some you grow to like and others you’re never comfortable with. Fire was an instant-like character. And she was one I rooted for throughout the book. She had a difficult life. Her beauty was so unnaturally astounding that she couldn’t even leave the house without someone trying to rape her, kill her, or propose to her. Or maybe all three by the same person. I wouldn’t want to be in her place, but I loved seeing how she grew into herself and became very strong.
The story was really good too. Some people have accused it of being a bit convoluted with the political aspect, but I don’t feel that way at all. I loved the political intrigue and war strategy. It was interesting to see a world headed to war and the royal brothers and Fire trying their best to minimize the casualties.
The pace the of the novel was more gradual than Graceling, but fit the story.
I think I like Graceling more because I felt more attached to the characters and because gracelings are simply more interesting than monsters. And because of Po (even though I loved Prince Brigan in Fire, as well). Also, the end of the first book felt more satisfying and it’s the kind of book I would read over and over again.
But that doesn’t make this book any less great. This was a very good installment in the Graceling Realm and I’m excited to read the third book, Bitterblue. I’m also excited about the fact that Kristin Cashore is releasing a new novel in 2017. It’s called Jane, Unlimited.