Review of ‘The Girl of Fire and Thorns’ (The Girl of Fire and Thorns #1)

By Cynthia Bujnicki

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Greenwillow Books
Image Credit: Goodreads

Elisa has been chosen for greatness. Born with the Godstone in her navel, she knows that she was born for a reason. But she doesn’t feel very great. Elisa feels nothing for inferior. But on her sixteenth birthday, she is weeded to a king who needs the Chosen of the Gods. But he isn’t the only one who wants her. Dark mages are hunting her, and so are revolutionaries. To help anyone, Elisa must first find the power within herself to fulfill the prophecy.

Published by Greenwillow Books, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is the first in a YA fantasy series.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a compelling fantasy novel that takes place in a country similar to medieval Spain. It has a vibrant atmosphere and culture that draws in the reader. Additionally, by keeping the mythology on the fringes of the story, Carson can explore it and expand upon it throughout the novel. Carson did a great job building the world for this novel, painting landscapes, cultures, and beliefs in such an excellent way to draw the reader into the story and the world.

Along with that is the characterization. It is compelling how the novel follows Elisa on her journey. Elisa struggles with body issues and low confidence, but through her adventures, Elisa learns to love herself, she learns to believe in herself and think for herself. Elisa spends half of the novel comparing herself to her older sister, but Elisa soon learns that her opinions, her thoughts they matter. Elisa realizes that she is smart, that she is thoughtful, and that she is a queen, not some curvy princess who loves food.

Moreover, that is another thing that works to make her a great character: she is real. Elisa does not shy away from food and often feels unloved, and while there is no problem eating and enjoying one’s food, there is a problem with binge eating, an eating disorder that if often overlooked. It is eating in place of love. It is not healthy and leads to a great many other mental health issues. However, Elisa soon learns that food is not love; that she can enjoy food simply because it is good, and she does. She overcomes her issues, and finds peace with herself, she finds the strength to love herself for exactly who she is, and that is empowering.

There are times when pacing falters, and the story does drag, but in those moments, the story is focusing more on the mythology and the history, rather than the action and the character growth. This, unfortunately, does cause the story to be somewhat repetitive as Carson recounts much of the mythology and history repeatedly. Nevertheless, the story does remain engaging, and character growth is phenomenal. (★★★★☆)

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Product Details:

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2011

Page count: 432pp

Age Range: 13 & Over

ISBN: 978-0-0620-2648-4

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

List Price: $17.99


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The Girl of Fire and Thorns


Writing Quality


Character Development


"Couldn't Put It Down"-ness


Intellectual Depth





  • Great character development
  • Unique type of fantasy


  • Pacing falters
  • Somewhat repetitive

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