Karen was not wrong. In fact, she was very, very right.
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is fantasy at its best. The world is rich, wide, and well-imagined, described beautifully and intricately, and woven into the story with such skill you barely realize Carson is building a world around you until it's already been built. Landscapes, clothing, people, and food seem real.
The characters are wonderful balances of strength and weakness, crafted with subtle details that make humans unique. Elisa, the main character and narrator, begins as a fat, frightened girl who would rather hide from her fate than embrace it. As the story moves, Elisa undergoes a fantastic transformation that is so well-written, it wasn't until the end that I realized every single word was a small change, a tiny turn in Elisa's outlook. She takes physical journeys across several landscapes, but the most rewarding one to read is by far her emotional journey. I don't want to give too much away, but throughout the novel you can't help but root for her; she has such potential as a human, and it's a pleasure to watch her slowly realize some of it, and to cheer her on as she does.
Though THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is the first of a planned trilogy, it ends in a conclusive place, for which I was grateful. I'm dying for the next book, but the ending of this first book had enough closure to satisfy me, and to make the story feel complete in its own right.
An honestly stunning debut, which will have wide appeal far beyond fantasy fans.
(Karen is buying a copy every month until the book's release in September. She also hinted that she might have a giveaway for her ARC. Watch her blog for details!)