By Kristin Cashore
Fire is a companion novel to Cashore’s Graceling. My review of Graceling is here.
Fire is the last remaining human monster. She is stunningly beautiful with hair the color of flame and the ability to read minds and control a person’s actions. She guards her power knowing how easy it would be for her to take control of others having seen her father, a true monster, do just that to too many people. She has no need or want to be cruel and having too many secrets of her own, doesn’t want to know everyone else’s. Her own pain is enough for her to endure.
She lives in a turbulent time, the king is barely holding on to his thrown, war is coming, and Fire is called the help the kingdom by uncovering a plot against the king. Skeptical at first, Fire finally relents and agrees to use her power to save the kingdom of the Dells.
I was expecting something different with this book, something more along the lines of Graceling I guess. I thought there would be more adventure and action and this one doesn’t have that in the same amounts as Graceling. It’s there, but in an entirely different way. In Fire, we’re introduced to a new world but one just as interesting. The monsters, great and small, roam the Dells, and Fire, ever conscience of her own status as one, does her best not to act like one. Her powers are legendary but she’s never willing to overstep which makes it hard to really look at her as a monster. There’s just too much self control on her part. Fire has her secrets and times she despises herself, especially those moments when she’s truly a monster, and you begin to see just how important her self-control is to her and why.
Fire has more of a romantic aspect to it than Graceling and develops at a slow pace, which with everything else going on, makes sense. I liked the fact that Cashore talked about love, sex, and birth control though. Two people become pregnant and Fire, not wanting children, takes a potion to ensure she never has children believing the world should have no more monsters like her but she suffers when she see her friend’s children, even knowing that her decision was the right one for her. The topic is not dumbed down and in a YA book I can appreciate that. The characters are frank and open about their actions and feelings and the consequences are discussed in a manner that shows nothing is insignificant.
I like Cashore’s writing style, and as I’ve said before, she has an amazing imagination. The world she created for Graceling felt fresh and vibrant and the same can be said for Fire. While all the characters are new there is one that makes an appearance from Graceling. I won’t say (it’s not Katsa) but it adds some missing back story you didn’t get in Graceling. There is supposed to be a follow up to Graceling later this year and I think I’ll be reading it to see what Cashore comes up with next.