Fire: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Fire by Kristin CashoreWar is coming to the Dells, a land already rife with lawlessness and trouble. Fire, the last remaining human monster, knows this better than most.

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.

Find it on Bookshop.

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, Furyborn by Claire Legrand, 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, There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool, The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

3 thoughts on “Fire: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

  1. Hum, I didn’t question Fire’s decision to remove any possiblity of having children because of the horrors her father committed with his abilities. The power monsters had over humans was a central theme and Fire’s decision, albeit rash, seemed well explained. She struggled constantly with herself over the use of her abilities. Imagine having to deal with your child the way she had to deal with her father should they be equally as manipulative! I didn’t see her decision as a lack of motherliness but a result of her cruel father and circumstances over which she felt she had no control.

    I do agree with you about Leck – worst villian ever. But he matures and in Graceling he is “stunningly diabolical and cunning.”

    Archer may have been flawed but he was honest with Fire and I always appreciated that. I thought Lord Brocker was another flawed character but, ultimately, a strong male character. King Nash was rather goofy…

    I haven’t read the Mill on the Floss but I agree with you. Fire made some rather ridiculous sacrifices. But like the first couple books in the Twilight series, I fell for it all hook, line and sinker (Of course, the ending of that series was ridiculously all author agenda. It was awful.) I have much warmer feelings for Fire, the book and the character. And though I have different feelings for Cahsore’s works, I can understand and respect your perspective.

    1. So true about Leck. It irritated me so much that the books were released out of sequence (with Fire coming after Graceling) because it made a lot of Leck’s villainy anti-climactic and even predictable in that everyone knew who he was right away.

      I guess I wanted Fire to be able to do better as a parent than her father did in the vein of children surpassing parents. It also seemed bizarre to have Fire surrounded by babies after everything.

      This one in particular hit a lot of soft spots for me that made it a visceral reading experience–like I almost couldn’t get through it to the end. Looking back with a couple years in between the review might have been a bit overly forceful in stating my opinions and I can absolutely see why everyone loves these books even if they are not always my cup of tea. I even acknowledge that I might be the only person in the world to not adore them, it happens.

      It’s funny because I love a lot of the “higher” fantasies like these books but by comparison my love for “Finnikin of the Rock” (to name one) is much greater than my love for either Graceling or Fire.

  2. In terms of quality, I agree with you completely. Finnikin of the Rock, Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief series, Monstrumologist, Bartimaeus, etc. are in a higher league. But in terms of guilty pleasure, I did fall for these books. I think I was a more forgiving reader but you make good points. I plan to reread with your comments in mind.

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