Fire by Kristin Cashore

Released in October 2009.

What a great book to be surprised by in the mail just when you have a couple of days of vacation.  I savored this read over the course of several days, teasingly reading only a small taste at a time so that it would linger longer.  That is until I reached about 3/4 of the way through and simply could not put it down. 

Fire is the prequel to Cashore’s Graceling.  There is only on character who appears in both books.  Set in the Dells as the kingdom heads towards war, readers will feel the dramatic tension not only of impending battle but also of romance.  Fire is a monster, born so beautiful that she either mesmerizes, creates desire or drives people to anger.  Her hair is the color of flame, not red but all of the other colors of fire entwined together into a sunset of hair.  Fire can speak in other people’s minds and can control their minds.  Her father was truly a monster, abusing his power and his relationship with the king.  Now with both her father and the king dead, Fire lives in a remote and quiet area until a mysterious archer with a foggy mind attempts to assassinate her.

This book is a wonderful fantasy, bringing depth to Cashore’s world in this neighboring kingdom, offering unforgettable characters, deep and fulfilling romance like Katsa and Po, and impossible choices that must be made.  This is a story of power, its abuse, its necessity, its application, and its release.  And it is the story of one amazing heroine, who readers will love despite her beauty, crave because of her spirit, and want to spend ever more time with.

Highly recommended, I expect every library will have a copy of this on their shelves.  It is a worthy successor to Graceling, equally enchanting and perhaps even better written.  Glorious as its heroine, this book is a monster of a book.