What's it about?
Fire is a monster - not a strange thing in the Dells which is a land filled with monsters, but she is the only human monster and with that comes power.
The Dells is a land on the brink of war and Fire must choose how to wield her power and how to help save the land she loves, learning about herself and her abilities along the way.
Why I love it:
Because Fire is extraordinary. She is one of my favourite heroines because she is fiercely loyal and independent and isn't afraid to stand up for herself. But also because she is not physically strong, she is flawed, she is so afraid of becoming her Father that she shies away from her power and lets that fear dictate her life and her choices for so long.
She is such a wonderful mix of contradictions, as all of Cashore's heroines are. She is beautiful but hates her beauty and does her level best to crush it as much as possible. She is not physically strong but has a mental strength that enables her to control or influence almost anyone. She desperately wants to be a mother but destroys any chance of that so she cannot be weak and tempted at a later point. She is complex and wonderful and so breathtakingly real that by the end of the book you ache for her. You want to sweep her up and make everything alright. I adore Fire.
It is also an incredibly important novel because the things that Fire experiences are things that woman everywhere experience on a daily basis. The harassment and abuse, the unwanted attention and embarrassment. It is amplified to reflect her amplified beauty, but they are all things that women deal with. My husband was slightly dismissive at first on reading, and then horrified that women do have to deal with harassment so frequently, and whilst on the whole it is not as vile and awful as some of what Fire deals with, it is still hard. It really opened his eyes and will do for many men, giving a window onto something that is largely dismissed, which I think is incredibly important.
Add to that Cashore's truly beautiful prose and you have a truly wonderful combination. One that I revisit time and time again, both in its original form and the audiobook read by Emma Powell who reads all three audio's for this series. Powell is fantastic, with a wonderful voice and an ability to vividly bring to life each character so clearly you know instantly who is speaking.
“It was a hurting tune, resigned, a cry of heartache for all in the world that fell apart. As ash rose black against the brilliant sky, Fire's fiddle cried out for the dead, and for the living who stay behind to say goodbye.”
Who should read it?
Everyone. For fans of Cashore's other works this is a definite must as I personally feel that this is the best of all her novels. My husband looked dubious when I handed it to him to read, but he soon became completely immersed in Fire's world and she opened his eyes to so many things women face that he had never really considered. It is a wonderful novel that anyone can enjoy and take something away from.
Read this if you liked:
Graceling & Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce
The Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson
You can read my full review here