Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
I liked this book a lot, but am surprised because I had been warned that it was “fat-phobic” and as a bigger woman I would probably be offended. The main character Elisa is indeed a large young woman, and has the usual mental and emotional responses to go along with not fitting her culture’s concept of the ideal woman. But I found her inner monologue about her appearance to be quite realistic, and reflecting negatively on her family and the people she met, not on her. As the younger, unremarkable daughter of the king of Orovalle, Elisa finds herself unexpectedly married off to a handsome and charming monarch of a nearby kingdom. So she and her two attendants must leave immediately to accompany the king of Joya d’Arena to his desert lands, which are being threatened by the same armies that make it unsafe in Orovalle. In addition, she is one of God’s chosen ones, bearing a Godstone jewel implanted in her navel. At some point she will perform a great service to the world, this is her legacy as the bearer, but she hasn’t been told much else by her father or her tutor Master Geraldo. So begins Elise’s journey, both the become a queen and to learn about herself, and her own strengths despite her lack of self- confidence. Her adventures start on the journey to the kingdom her new husband Alejando rules, when a group of “barefooted demons, nearly naked and painted tin black-and-white swirls” attacks the caravan. Her trouble continues when she arrives in Joya d’arena to discover that she is to be a secret wife until Alejandro decides it’s the right time to break the news of his marriage to his kingdom. And then, Elisa is kidnapped by rebels who take her on an arduous journey across the mountains and desert.
Told in the first person perspective, this novel will draw readers in immediately. There are plot twists and turns continually, making it a hard book to set aside. I would recommend this to readers looking for a strong female protagonist, fantasy fans and anyone looking for a story with lots of action and adventure. We also have the second book in the planned trilogy.