Title: The Crown of Embers
Author: Rae Carson
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
This review contains no spoilers for The Girl of Fire and Thorns or The Crown of Embers.
Elisa is a hero to her people after her courageous actions in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but now she must face all new challenges. She isn’t sure who she can trust, and what’s more, she still has the Godstone to worry about. As her kingdom faces new threats from outside and from within, Elisa must discover the truth behind her destiny and find a way to help her people.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a novel that impressed me greatly, but I reviewed for a site I freelance for, so I didn’t get a chance to do much beyond a short review here. I decided to rectify that with the second book in the trilogy, The Crown of Embers, using this review as an opportunity to discuss what I found so unique about this YA fantasy series.
The main character, Elisa, is definitely different from most heroines you come across in teenage novels. She’s not stick thin, nor is she especially pretty. Instead, when The Girl of Fire and Thorns begins, she’s rather unattractive, drowning her sorrows in the food around her. It’s what makes her transformation over the course of these two books so extraordinary. She finds her voice and her strength, realizing that she can amount to more than others’ expectations. The character growth across these two novels is really wonderful, especially because when The Crown of Embers begins, Elisa (who has already proven herself in The Girl of Fire and Thorns) must establish herself all over again with a new set of people.
The storyline behind The Crown of Embers is certainly an interesting one. The fictional society seems to be mostly based on Catholic Spain, albeit with some supernatural (or rather, divine in this case) forces at work. Carson has created a rich tapestry of backstory for this book, and it’s interesting to watch how everything unfolds. The twists and turns are unexpected, yet completely believable. Readers who put a premium on worldbuilding in fantasy novels will really enjoy this one.
While The Girl of Fire and Thorns blew me away, The Crown of Embers entertained me. It wasn’t quite as amazing as the first book in the trilogy, but it was thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. The book is categorized as YA because of Elisa’s tender age, but this series should appeal greatly to adult readers. The romances are well-written and mature, and Elisa is too smart to succumb to the teenage angst that riddles so many other books in this genre. All in all, if you’re looking for a unique fantasy read with a truly amazing main character, look no further than Rae Carson’s trilogy.
Other books by Rae Carson: