Author: Kristin Cashore
Review: A monstrously beautiful young girl must come to terms with her powers, powers that her father used to cause chaos and death in the kingdom. This story is set on an alternate fantasy world where people and wild animals can be born with magical powers that can enthral normal folk into doing their bidding. Part of this magic is linked to their unearthly beauty which is used by most ordinary people to recognize, avoid and hate these monsters. Having this power not only means you have unnatural beauty and that you can enthral others, but that you can also read their minds. Fire is a human form of one of these rare monsters and she’s grown up with a cruel and infamous Father, Lord Cansrel, who used his powers to cause the downfall of the kingdom called the Dells.
Fire is used to hiding herself away from civilization because she does not want to cause harm to others like her father did. She often contemplates on him – both with love and hate. Her father was the only other person in the entire world who understands what she has to live with but at the same time, he is a monster to her because he had tortured and hurt many innocents for his own pleasure. She finds it hard to reconcile these two polar feelings about her father.
Because of an incident involving a mysterious, and strangely empty-minded poacher trying to shoot her, Fire finds herself forced back into civilization where she seeks the help of the current King Nash and his brother, Commander Brigan. King Nash’s response to meeting Fire for the first time is as expected – infatuation. Commander Brigand, however, is suspicious of her right away, knowing her family history and what she is. But when Fire proves her pure heart by heroically sacrificing herself during an attack from monstrous raptor beasts, she is grudgingly allowed to work and live in the King’s City, helping the King read the minds of his prisoners and extracting information from his enemies through her persuasive powers. As she spends more time there, she and Brigand slowly grow to know each other and the beginnings of a romance form.
The kingdom of Dell is being undermined by some unknown enemy. Fire thinks it has to do with the empty-minded people who keep appearing. Her best friend, Archer, who has always loved Fire more than she loves him, helps Fire to find the source of the empty-minded people – a little boy with strange monstrous powers never before seen. The little boy recognizes Fire’s powers and shows a strangely adult-like, power hungry personality. He has ambitions to rule the world and he will make Fire his partner in crime.
As Fire gets more and more embroiled in the politics of the civilization she always hid herself from, she shows a tremendous compassion and understanding towards those who hate and love her – all the while seeking a genuine connection with someone who truly sees who she is, behind all her magical allure. She eventually grows into a lady who becomes much respected in the Dells for her benevolent use of her powers for the good of the kingdom. I really like the complex relationship Fire has with her Father. Her Father represents who she could become if she succumbs to the easy temptation of using her powers to get what she wants yet her Father was the only one who truly loved and understood her. It becomes especially tortured and tragic when it is revealed that Fire used her powers to instigate her Father’s death to stop his cruelty.
My favorite scene was the love scene at Fort Flood when Brigand and Fire finally admit that they love each other. I liked that Fire was always very careful and always sought the compassionate way to use her powers with every situation – she never thought of the people who fell under her spell like lambs which is the easy route to deal with things. If there were one thing to dislike about Fire, I would say it would have been a more upbeat and less broody story if her voice was more humorous.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: amazon.co.uk
Also see: Graceling by Kristin Cashore