Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fire by Kristin Cashore

In this companion to her first novel, Graceling, readers can enjoy more of Kristin Cashore's richly-detailed world-building. We are on the other side of the mountains this time, where only a young boy named Leck, with one red and one gray eye, provides a link to the setting in Graceling. Instead of graces, we are introduced to deadly magical monsters, which are brilliantly-coloured counterparts to every animal species, including humans. There is a half-human monster at the center of the story, a teenager named Fire, who is struggling to come to terms with her fearsome powers. She is in a love triangle amidst the political intrigue of a country on the verge of civil war.

Repeated references to Fire's menstrual cycles - she is a particular target for monster raptors during that time - had me feeling a bit uneasy about this reinforcement of a popular urban legend regarding dangerous animals being attracted to menstruating women on wilderness trips. On the other hand, I appreciated Cashore bringing the topic into the open. It made a stark contrast to the total absence of any monthly bleeding in Twilight, where it would have made sense to mention it, given the extreme reaction Edward and his family had when Bella cut her finger.

Fire is an intriguing character and Fire is an engrossing, romantic and suspenseful story. It is also a Cybil winner. Grade 9 and up.

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