When I first started this book, and realized it didn’t share any of the characters with Graceling (save one), I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I was so wrong! Cashore is so talented.
Fire is the last of the human monsters. She is hated for her ability to control minds, a power that her father also possessed and misused, but people are also drawn to her monster beauty; many are even rendered senseless around her. When the king’s brother, Brigan, comes to invite her to King City to meet the king, she goes willingly. The king asks for her help to stop those who would steal his crown, and the power that comes with it. But Fire is afraid she won’t be able to control her power: she is afraid of becoming her father.
Fire felt like a sophomore novel to me — more mature, slightly darker, and not as chaste. You know how much I loved Graceling; I raved about it. I loved fire too, but not as much as Graceling. I don’t know how Cashore does it but I find her heroines are positively magnetic; they feel true, deep, and complex, like real people, and we readers get to see them grow as we make our way through the book. One thing I really like in fantasy books like this is when there are maps at the beginning. I like seeing the layout of Cashore’s world, and how Fire’s lands line up next to Kasha’s. I wish McKinley’s Damar books had maps at the beginning too.
I was surprised, after reading around online a bit, what people didn’t like about this book. Many said it’s basically the same as Graceling, with the same heroine. Fire and Katsa are certainly similar, but for me that was not a bad thing… there’s a reason I like both her books. These are my kind of heroines 😉 Looks like I am a solid member of the niche that Cashore is writing for.