Everyone has known since the day Fire was born that she is a monster, but that has never stopped her from trying to conceal it. In the Dells, there are many monsters who look just like their normal counterparts, except for the fantastical colors that separate them. Fire is the last human monster who, just like all other monsters, can ensnare the mind with one look. She stands out from the regular human population due to her atypical beauty and flaming red hair.
Fire has lived a rather quiet life in the outer reaches of the Dells in a house that her father Cansrel, the borderline-evil henchman of the last King, set up for her. He taught her everything she needed to know about being a human monster and all the things she is capable of, even though she refuses to use her gifts to harm others. After years of isolated living alongside her friend and occasional bedmate Archer, so named because he is the best in the land, and his father, Fire finds herself at the center of the plan to save the Dells from complete ruination.
After an attack from a rogue poacher, Fire searches for answers at nearby Queen Roen’s estate. Unfortunately, Fire encounters two people she was hoping to avoid, the Queen’s sons King Nash and the commander of the King’s army Brigan. Feeling that she is not safe enough, despite Archer’s assurances to the contrary, they decide to bring Fire to the King’s castle and use her abilities to uncover the plot to overtake the throne. Fire’s abilities are strong, but they can only do so much. Can she do as she is bid, even if it means becoming like her father?
A marvelous tale, told with the same build-up of Graceling, Fire continues to mesmerize. Kristin Cashore has created a fantastic world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary with a simple tweak. Humans and creatures become monsters simply by mind control and bright colors. Children become Gracelings simply by having two different colored eyes and an aptitude for something.
While I found this story more intriguing than Graceling, it was much more complicated and in depth. That’s not to say that it was boring or anything like that, it just took a little while to get started because of the history and knowledge that has to be imparted to the reader. The monsters lend a new and intriguing aspect to life in an otherwise normal kingdom. The fact that there can be human monsters is even more interesting, especially since Fire is the last of her kind (and plans to keep it that way).
The characters gave a wide and varied perspective on the kingdom. Archer is an upper middle class type citizen with a jealous streak when it comes to Fire. She is a sheltered and fearful person with large expectations of herself. Brigan is a nobleman through and through with a heart so large that he’s had to close it off to many. Nash is rather rash and unwieldy in his personal affairs, but quite reliable when it comes to taking care of his kingdom. They all come together in a manner that allows for many crossings and interactions of both a personal and public sort.
Truly an exciting read that I will enjoy again and again, Fire is an enrapturing novel filled with enticing characters and more action than I hope I ever have to see in real life. Pick it up and give it a shot and I truly hope you will agree!
-Laura from the Duraleigh Road Library