Part monster, Fire’s beauty is enough to strike a man (and some women) dumb. Sometimes her flame red hair and striking eyes are too much. Sometimes those who behold her are driven to violence in their efforts to possess her while monster animals are just as drawn to her hair and blood. It was easier for Fire’s monster father. Cansrel loved the attention, loved using his beauty and his mind to control people and get whatever he wanted. Cansrel loved being the monster advisor to King Nax and helping the weak man drive the Dells to the brink of ruin.
Fire doesn’t want that kind of depravity and the danger of her powers is frightening. She is content to lead a quiet life in the north away from the intrigue and machinations of King’s City where Nax’s children struggle to hold the kingdom together.
Unfortunately events soon conspire to draw Fire away from her home. Mysterious archers seem to be hunting her. The royal family seems to want her help; something Fire is unwilling to give lest she turn into the monster her father was. But war, and maybe something else, is coming to the Dells and Fire has a role to play whether she likes it or not in Fire (2009) by Kristin Cashore.
Fire is a companion to Cashore’s popular debut novel Graceling and the second book in her Seven Kingdoms Trilogy. It is set about thirty years before Graceling and further east beyond the seven kingdoms that readers of the first book would recognize. The two books could easily stand alone though they do share one very important common character.
Though Cashore returns to familiar territory here, she has created new characters and a new story that stands apart from her earlier novel. Fire lacks some of the flash bang action that made Graceling so gripping but it does have an abundance of political intrigue, character development and romance.
Fire is a complex heroine and, perhaps as its title suggests, Fire is very much a study of her character. Fire often felt fully realized and compelling, but other times it felt too much like Fire was being pushed toward certain decisions by Cashore which made parts of the story clumsy and incongruous.
It is at times frustrating because Fire as a character seems to fall into many of the same patterns as Katsa (Graceling‘s heroine) even though the two women are really nothing alike. Self-sacrifice and just plain old sacrifice play big roles in Fire–something else that was bothersome about the story. There is a line between creating conflict or tension in a story and creating needless suffering in a story. Fire crossed that line several times.
Fire is a subtle, charming book that will quickly draw in many readers. Unfortunately, it might push away just as many.
Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, White Cat by Holly Black, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Proxy by Alex London, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley, Soundless by Richelle Mead, The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner