Fire, by Kristin Cashore (book review) – power of beauty, lure of power

book cover of Fire by Kristin Cashore published by DialWe usually think of monsters as horrific, terrifying, and hideous (like the Creature from the Black Lagoon).

But what if the monstrosity was purely inner? These are the monsters of Fire’s world, the monsters whose dazzling physical beauty and powers of mind control are an irresistable lure and a snare to entrap mere humans.

As a monster-human hybrid, Fire knows the power of her beauty, yet her human half strives to overcome it. In an unstable kingdom attacked by monster creatures as well as human treachery, Fire may be the key to a possible peace… or utter ruin.

Fire is chronologically a prequel to Cashore’s stunning debut novel, Graceling. Each story can stand alone, but you’ll want to read both. Check the author’s blog for her progress on their sequel Bitterblue.

Book info: Fire / Kristin Cashore. Hardback – Dial Books, 2009. Paperback – Firebird, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: In these days of war, Fire travels watchfully to her music students’ homes in the mountains. But Fire is a human-monster, capable of controlling minds, far more dangerous than any bandits. Raised by a foster family of humans, she has become a master archer, like her foster brother, and loses herself in her music to forget her father.

She’s determined not to become like him, her full-monster father who ruled the king’s mind and being as they stripped the Dells of its safety, emptying the treasury for pleasures and drugs. Cansrel and King Nax are dead now, leaving unprepared young King Nash on the throne, with lords in the North preparing to battle him for the crown.

An assassin whose mind is completely blank, King Nax’s widow in voluntary exile, the armies of Lord Myddogg and Lord Gentian gathering in the North, the increasing number of monster-animals attacking humans, first with their irresistible beauty and then with claws and teeth – can the Dells survive such threats and dangers?

When Prince Brigan asks Fire to travel to the King’s City to help them hold the kingdom together by using the powers of her mind, she wants to refuse. Is she truly their only hope? Can she resist the lure of continuing to manipulate people’s minds after the crisis has past? Is there any future for the last human-monster in this suspicious, vicious world?

A companion to Graceling, Fire’s story stands on its own, asking questions about humanity and responsibility and society in a fantasy world that may be too much like our own. (One of 5,000 books recommended on

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