There is no doubt that when a friend came back from ALA with this arc I could barely keep myself from ripping it out of her hands. After all, I along with everyone else in existence adored Graceling. I was dying to know what happened next to Katsa and Po. Much to my dismay, I found myself entering an entirely different set of characters. Who are these people I wondered? Where is Katsa? What is going on? I feel angry!
Luckily, I didn’t feel ripped off for long. Cashore introduces an entirely (well almost…and that there is a teaser people!) new cast of characters that I quickly grew to love. According to Cashore's website this is a prequel-ish novel not a sequel and takes place 30 years before Graceling.
Fire, our heroine of this novel, shares many similarities with Katsa. She has a “talent” that she is not proud of, she is beautiful, deadly, and underneath a remarkably moral person. However, Fire, is not a graceling. Nope. Fire is a monster. Yes, a monster. In this kingdom, there are creatures that resemble normal animals in every way shape and form except that they are extraordinarily beautiful and colorful and they use this advantage to become predators. Fire, a monster human, inspires lust, envy, hatred, rage, in everyone and everything and this all by just looking at her. She inspires fear as well through her ability to read and control minds.
I don’t want to tell too much, because it would be an absolute travesty to spoil the plot. However, I don’t think it is saying too much to say that Cashore definitely has a writing style. Besides the likeness her heroines share, there are many of the same themes from Graceling revisited in her second novel. Redemption, love, love triangles (or love squares as is the case here), use of power, good versus evil (with plenty of shades of grey to keep it interesting). And all this with a distinctly feminist edge.
One final note, it drove me crazy trying to figure out what kingdom this story took place in. I was surprised and rather amazed when that answer became clear. Clearly Cashore is able to expand and fill out her mythology without any detriment to her story.
Anyone who has read Graceling will be dying to get their hands on Fire. And those who haven’t read Graceling yet? What the heck are you waiting for?