Tuesday, April 14, 2009

(Non) Review - very early! - of Fire by Kristin Cashore

Fire: a Novel by Kristin Cashore. Dial, September 2009.

This is not a review, honestly! The cover of my very early ARC says very clearly that “this version should not, under any circumstances, be used for review.” So consider this commentary.

This novel takes place in the same world as Graceling, but several decades in the past and an impenetrable (almost) mountain range away from the Seven Kingdoms. Fire, our teenaged heroine, is a monster. Like monster cats, birds, insects, and other species, she has brilliant coloration – in Fire’s case, it’s her astoundingly vivid hair, in shades of red, orange and even pink, that draws attention. She also possesses a strong magnetism, almost a glamour, that causes both fascination and overwhelmingly strong emotions (positive and negative) in everyone who sees her. Oh, and she’s absolutely uncannily gorgeous – that’s part of her monsterhood.

Readers won’t be envious. In fact, she attracts so much unwanted and dangerous attention – mostly from men and fellow monsters – that she must always cover her hair and be accompanied by a group of guards. Luckily, her important position in court allows her a certain measure of protection and even influence – although she is loathe to use her mind-reading/mind-altering powers.

Fire is just as vivid, likable, and amazing character as Katsa in Graceling. I was right there with her every step of the way from the first page to the last, never once being jarred out of my trance by awkward prose any other flaw - an occurrence that is so magical and relatively rare that it makes me reel with delirious joy when I find this kind of book.

Delicious, delightful, multi-layered, heartrending – damn, this is good. Graceling readers will feel a chill of horror at the first few pages, in which a certain well-known character makes a sinister appearance that does not bode well for Fire. Sure enough, Bad Stuff happens – and it’s even worse knowing what will happen during the next few decades in Katsa’s part of the world – but this shiver of fear only enhances the transcendent moments of friendship and love (oh yes, there is love).

September is a long time for Graceling fans to wait, but they will be well rewarded. Fire is a masterpiece.


  1. I'm just writing to tell you I love your "Fire" review! I, too, am a Youth Services Librarian, and I'm reading "Fire" right now, and loving it!

    I thought maybe you'd be interested in our latest podcast episode, as well, since it features Kristin Cashore!

  2. Thanks, Deirdrea, for letting me know about that long and juicy podcast - most excellent!