I seem to have a knack for picking up books that turn out to be the first installment in a series. After spending lots of time reading children’s books, this talent is not something I am particularly happy about. When a series is good, there is nothing like longing to get your hands on the next book because you can’t wait to find out what happens or reunite with beloved characters. But when a series isn’t so good, well, the next book is often accompanied by dread!
In The Girl of Fire and Thorns (winner of YALSA’s Top 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults Award), we meet Elisa. She, as bearer of the godstone, is the one person selected during the century whose destiny is to perform an act of great service. But as the younger of two princesses, Elisa doesn’t feel particularly worthy of her destiny. Her sixteenth birthday is also her wedding day, after which she leaves her home with the handsome young king she has never met to become the queen of his troubled desert country. Elisa may not feel useful, but a group of rebels thinks that, as bearer of the godstone, she could be their salvation.
Picking up where The Girl of Fire and Thorns left off, The Crown of Embers finds Elisa buoyed by her victory over her enemy, but struggling to overcome her inexperience as a ruler. The only way to bring stability to her ailing country is to harness the power of a mysterious magical force called the zafira. But first she must find it. To do so, she’ll have to elude many more enemies, even one from within her own court. She may return to lead as a stronger queen, but not without a price.
This series is a good choice for teen girls who enjoy a mix of fantasy, adventure, and romance. Much of the enjoyment comes from main character Elisa’s transformation. Initially, she has very little confidence, but as the story progresses, she evolves from a pampered princess into a strong, self-sufficient strategist and leader. She is loyal to her friends and family, and strives live up to the honor of the godstone. Elisa’s evolution continues in the second book, where she learns valuable lessons about relying on the power that is already within her and being guided by her own moral compass.
Each of these books also features an endearing love interest. Romance, combined with an imperfect but likable heroine, a bit of suspense, and royal intrigue make these books a safe bet for teen girls. And there’s a third book in the trilogy to look forward to.