East of the seven kingdoms, The Dells are inhabited by monsters that resemble common animals except they are extraordinarily colored and beautiful. They also control human minds. It is this ability that causes most people to fear Fire, the last human monster living in the Dells.
And that is all I’m going to say plot-wise, because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. My poor co-worker had most of the plot described to her at a workshop (shudder) and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who likes to have the complete experience.
I re-read Graceling before starting Fire, because I have a bad memory when it comes to details. I loved it even more the second time and I was feeling a little bit grumpy about Fire being a prequel. I wanted more Katsa and Po. But once I started reading, I forgot to be upset. Kristin Cashore sure can tell a great story. As with Graceling, the characters are wonderful and even more developed. The bad characters were bad to the core and one of them just gave me the chills. He is on my top ten list of evil characters. (Hmm who are the others?) Fire is a deliciously complex character. People expect her to be bad, but she is actually a very compassionate monster prone to fits of daring that make her best friend Archer a tad bit overprotective. And then there’s Prince Brigan. Sigh. He’s the kind of character you fall for right away, but he just keeps getting better. It’s the little things that he does that make him so endearing.
Honestly, I had some preconceived notions about the book. I thought the monsters were going to be silly. I couldn’t stop thinking about the guy in one of my graduate seminar’s who was going to write a paper about monstahs! But, Cashore turned the idea of monsters upside down and they fit into her world seamlessly. Fire was one of those books that I wanted to devour and savour at the same time. Darn the powers that make that not possible. At one point, I just stopped reading, smiled and shrugged my shoulders because I was so happy to be reading something that good. I felt like the book was written just for me. Ok, me and a whole lot of other people. I hope you’re one, too.