Saturday, October 20, 2012

Making Sewers Sexy

“'I won't lie to you. 
There is always a cost. 
All I can guarantee is that it will be the right thing.'
'It's insane,' he says, but without vehemence.
It's faith,' I say.” 
--Rae Carson, Crown of Embers

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 410 pages
Release Date: September 18th, 2012

Wow, I started this book yesterday at around 2 pm, binge read, ignored everyone and everything around me until I was able finish which was around 930 pm. *whew* It was beyond worth it. A day later and I am still thinking about this book! Crown of Embers by Rae Carson is the second book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy and what a sophomore edition it was. I read Girl of Fire and Thorns a few months back and loved it! The world building was impeccable, the characters were realistic and believable, and the background of the culture was so interesting! 

So the background and recap of The Girl of Fire and Thorns: *IF YOU HAVE NOT READ EITHER YET THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD* Elisa is an overweight princess of Orovalle who was chosen at birth by God to bear the Godstone, a precious gem inserted into her navel revealed her choosing at birth. There is one bearer every 100 years or so and a destiny will be revealed to them eventually that they are to complete. Most die young and horrible deaths due to war. Elisa is 16 and has not found her destiny yet. Girl of Fire and Thorns begins with Elisa's arranged marriage to a handsome king in a faraway country and she is eventually kidnapped by Eastern rebels hoping that she is their answer to gaining freedom from the evil Invierne who are at war with everyone and anyone. She eventually, with the help of her kidnappers turned great friends, creates the Malificio which is a rebellion-esque team of people who try and infiltrate and sabotage the invading Invierne. 

What I LOVE about the first book is Elisa's growth as an independent woman and leader. She is used to being overshadowed and spoken over and not taken seriously. But during her time with the Malificio she really finds herself and begins to see what she is capable of. She is brave and loyal and able to do so many things that she usually surprises herself most of all. I love this about her character! I loved all the twists and turns Carson brought to this story. It kept changing and you never really knew where it was going to lead to or who would be the next victim. That's another thing! Carson has no qualms about killing off characters. Damn girl. I want to cower in terror as a reader hoping you don't kill off my favorite person next but I respect you immensely for biting the bullet and making some sacrifices on characters I truly thought were going to stick around through the series. 

Crown of Embers picks up around 5 months after Girl of Fire and Thorns ends. Elisa is Queen regent and holding a spot for Prince Rosario once he comes of age. There are several attempts on her life throughout the novel and she believes they are being orchestrated by her own men that are supposed to be loyal to her. Messed up, right? Can't trust anyone these days...Hector *swoon times a million* is always there to save her. He is the captain of her Royal Guard and there is this constant underlying tension that he likes her more than just his sovereign Queen and she is beginning to feel the same way. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Her priest friends and Ximena the nurse have been researching the ancient texts and discover a passage that alludes to a place that holds all the power needed to rule the kingdom. Elisa knows through her Godstone that this is her destiny. So through a fake betrothal (by the way that is my all time FAVORITE word. Betrothed. Betrothal. Any form of the word Alec, I love them all) to a southern conde she sets out to find this path. Another assassination attempt on the journey splits up the group and sends Elisa seaboard to Hector's brother's ship with the others travelling to Selvarica as a hoax. She is tested along the way through a massive hurricane and...well SO much more happens after that but you HAVE to read it to find out!!! *WHERE IS THE BITTER KINGDOM I NEED IT NOW!*

OK, I need to calm down. This book was unbelievable. I could NOT put it down. I loved where the story went and the journey they took to get there. The escape across the desert, the hurricane on board the ship, it all was just so exciting to read! And Hector! Oh my gosh the sexual tension of these two characters! I was dying the whole time until he FINALLY kissed her. *sigh* I just love how these two characters' relationship grew. They truly love each other's company and make such a good team! They truly are partners even though Hector sees her as above him (and technically she is) but they work so well together! They keep each other in check in a respectful manner and always challenge each other. 

When Hector was injured and Elisa realized that she loved him and could wield her Godstone power I was tearing up. They are just so perfect for each other. He risks his life every day for her to be safe and there is just something about a man and his duty and honor. Hot hot hot. And she is not afraid to tell him how she really feels. They butt heads because they both will do anything to protect the other. Elisa grows so much in this book. She is strong, independent, loyal. She can make decisions and she doesn't just jump into things. She really thinks them through and tries time and time again to do the right thing for her people. Where once she was weak and quiet she has evolved into a smart, independent, and strong woman. Team Elisa! All hail the Queen!

Hands down though I think my favorite scene in the entire novel is during the hurricane. When Hector and Elisa are praying and then she feels all the prayers of the other men on board, that is what gets them through the storm. Faith. Prayer. Looking for strength in God. I cannot begin to to describe how much I love this theme and element of the book. There is a serious lack in young adult novels where faith in a higher power is recognized. Most of the time it is just ignored. I LOVE how Carson builds such a strong faith-based culture. That whole scene was so powerful and inspiring that I wanted to read it over and over. It gave me chills, really. 

I loved this book. Love love love. It is rare that I like a sequel to a book more than the original but this is one of my exceptions. Crown of Embers was un-put-down-able and honestly I wish I could go back and start over from the beginning...which I might have to do in the near future. Fantastic and I cannot WAIT for The Bitter it next year yet?

5/5 Stars

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