fireFire (Graceling Realm #2) by Kristin Cashore
Release Date: October 5, 2009
Publisher: Dial
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.

You may have seen my review for Bitterblue up recently, and if you’ve been around long enough, you know I also reviewed Graceling.  I put off reading Fire until recently though, because I couldn’t get into a new set of characters so soon after the romantic trauma that was Katsa and Po.  I wanted more from the world of Graceling, not this new world I had no emotional connection to.  I was wrong to do that!  Fire is so, so good, just as good as Graceling and Bitterblue.  Fire is a complex girl living in a cruel world that doesn’t want to accept her or even tolerate her.  Men are turned into baser beasts just by seeing her.  Monsters attack because of her hair.  Her father is a sociopathic monster, and her best friend is hotheaded and in love with her.  Fire’s life is not easy.  When she’s called away to help Prince Brigan, the story really starts.

This story is really about Fire’s journey as a monster, as a woman, as a lady, more so than about the coming war in the Dells.  This is a coming of age story and I love it, surrounded as it is by monsters and magic, good, evil, and shades of grey.  I enjoyed watching her come to grips with her role in her world and make peace with the evil her father, the monster Cansrel, perpetuated.  She deals with the unrequited love of Archer, her best friend, and finds herself falling for the prince, Brigan.  Watching their relationship unfold was my favorite part of this novel.  Brigan begins so untrusting, so cold toward Fire, but he (no pun intended) warms to her, partly because of how Fire treats animals and children.  This book was just so good to read, even the sad or dramatic bits didn’t bring it down.

The way Brigan and Fire fall in love unfolds so slowly, but it’s lovely to watch.  Fire never realized she was loveable before; sure, monsters and men both want her, but they want to use her, not love her.  Even when they say they love her, it could really just be lust.  She’s in a constant state of not knowing, and people are dying around her in this huge war.  She’s afraid to love someone who will die, someone who always leaves to fight the enemies of the Dells.  As I mentioned before, this is a coming of age story for Fire, and I loved it throughout.  Definitely read this one if you loved Graceling.