“Fire”, the companion book to “Graceling” widens the world the author originally created and opens up to give a character that is the flipside of the previously beloved Katsa. Fire is a delicate yet powerful creature, endowed with magic that is mental yet physical. She holds the interests that Katsa didn’t: marriage, mothering, a need to be protected—yet she doesn’t play the helpless lady. Instead she shows a mental prowess that provides a whole new look at strength and how it is built. Again, pushing the power of women, this is a fantastic book for young girls seeking to see themselves reflected in fantasy. The world remains vibrant and opens up to a technicolor view of a land of ‘monsters’—shining bright creatures of all kinds that ensnare human minds. The lore of the Graceling world arrives in the form of Leck, who appears as a side plot and a fine antagonist in this prequel of sorts. The author continues to explore themes of morality, strength, internal turmoil, and the weight of true decision-making, which all pay off due to her fine sense of plot and well-constructed characters. Again, the pace of the piece can make this a one-day read as the content and characters are so compelling. Another strong book in the series, I look forward to digging into the next one: “Bitterblue”.

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