Kristen Cashore's first novel, Graceling, is one of my favorite YA novels and her second novel, Fire, is a worthy companion. The novel is a prequel to Graceling and is set in the land of the Dells, where fantastic creatures and beautiful beings called "monsters" coexist with humans. "Monsters" are essentially human but possess great skills, powers and beauty. Fire, a beautiful maiden with blazing red hair, is part monster/part human who finds her gifts of beauty and mind control more of a burden than a privilege. Fire's talents are needed in the kingdom her father removed her from upon the day of her birth, to protect her from the men her beauty can drive into madness. Unable to reject the King's request to appear before the royal family, Fire journey's to the Kingdom of the Dells and along the way, uncovers shocking secrets about her past and the future threats that could rob her of any future in the Dells.
My summary of the book is entirely inadequate because Kristen Cashore has once again created a gripping novel that weaves a tale with so many intricate threads, it's impossible to give her writing a worthy review. The world she created in Graceling is just as compelling and magical in Fire, and I enjoyed learning the origins of the evil Graceling, King Leck. I'm hoping she will release a third book that reveals his rise to power and what became of Brigan and Fire. Fire was romantic and full of action, and I was easily wrapped up in the magical world Cashore creates with her wonderful use of imagery. The men in Fire's world are not your typical hero's painted in novels that involve romance and action. Just like Po in Graceling, I found myself rooting for both Archer and Brigan, and at times, even King Nash with his pathetic puppy-dog love for Fire.
Yes, there were a few things I found too similar to Katza in Graceling; traits that I wish Cashore wouldn't have bestowed upon Fire - like Fire's want to prevent herself from ever having children. If Fire was accepting her talents and beauty and embracing them as "gifts" (the shift she begins to make towards the middle-end of the novel), then why wouldn't she want to have children...especially after finding true love? It's confusing that the two heroines in Cashore's books have to abandon their basic rights as females to be considered brave and worthy of respect. Other than that discrepancy, the novel is supremely fabulous and also worthy of many Young Adult Fiction awards just like its predecessor, Graceling. Check out the book trailer for Fire below!