Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial Books
Plot Summary: Fire takes place before Cashore's first book, Graceling, and tells the story of the Dells, a distant and secluded land teeming with monsters. These monsters have breathtaking beauty and the ability to manipulate the minds of humans and range in physical form from mouse monsters, bug monsters, bird monsters, and great cat monsters. There is only one human monster in the Dells, a female human monster the daughter of Cansrel, a male monster who committed suicide. She lives under the wing of Archer and his father Brocker, the former Army Commander of the kingdom. Fire, Archer, and Brocker live in relative peace, dealing with the monsters that attack Fire for her delicious human monster flesh. When the son of the King, the Army Commander Prince Brigan comes to Brocker's home requesting Fire's assistance, her life is turned upside down as she leaves the only home she has ever known to the capital. There, Fire will use the power she uses only in self defense to control and manipulate people in order to save the kingdom.
Critical Evaluation: As a companion novel to Graceling, Fire plumbs the depths of Cashore's world and views it from a totally different perspective. Introducing readers to the strangeness of monsters and their power in comparison to Graced individuals is done in a manner that previous readers will enjoy and new readers can also understand. The choice of a human monster as narrator rather than a human protagonist is not surprising and Fire as a narrator is the most sympathetic manner for readers to learn about their world. Similarly, by delving into Fire's character, teen readers can sympathize with how strange she feels in comparison to everyone else, how she does not fit in anywhere and how she is afraid of her own powers. Her attraction to Brigan and Archer may not draw in male readers but the romance within the story will entertain female readers. The main use of foreshadowing within Fire is visible to those who read Graceling, as the character Leck appears as a child. Other foreshadowed events such as the relationship between Fire and Brigan are predictable but occur in a natural manner.
Reader's Annotation: A young girl in the Dells, Fire is a monster whose gorgeous exterior hides her ability to manipulate and control humans. Living relatively peacefully, it is only when the Prince Brigan visits when Fire realizes the strength of her power and what it can do.
Information About the Author: Kristin Cashore grew up in Pennsylvania while reading everything she could get her hands on. Along with reading, reading and reading, Cashore spent her time daydreaming about other worlds and strange powers.
After finishing graduate school for Children's literature, Cashore could not stop writing even though she switched from formal essays to fiction. Read more about Cashore at her website.
Genre: Fantasy; Romance
Curriculum Ties N/A
- How is Fire a strong protagonist and how does she differ from the males in her life? How does her relationship with her father affect her own behavior as well as the behavior of those who act with her? In comparison, what does Archer's father pass down to him?
Reading Level: 16+
- While there are disturbing themes within Fire, the protagonist herself deals with them as best as she can and her growing control over her increasing powers. Fire is a sympathetic narrator who does not abuse her powers and attempts to live peacefully with the humans around her, as well as find personal happiness and save the kingdom.
Why This Book?: ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Cashore, K. (2009). Fire. New York: Dial Books.