A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this well-executed fantasy book contains some violence and other mature subject matter, including a young man who murders his father, (barely described) rapes, and unplanned pregnancies. Fire herself was fathered by a monster who raped her human mother -- and used mind control over the king to enjoy acts of cruelty and depravity. But Fire is a strong, brave heroine, and the main story is about how she overcomes her history and realizes that she can be the kind of person she longs to be.
What's the story?
In the Dells where the monsters live, every creature -- even human -- has a monster version: monster leopards, monster kittens, even a 17-year-old monster girl named Fire. Men desire her for her beauty, kings desire her for her ability to control minds. She lives a secluded life giving music lessons to children and thinks she's in love with her childhood best friend, Archer. But as war brews, young Prince Brigan arrives in Fire’s village to ask for her help. She travels with his army to the city of her birth, where life in the castle is full of both intrigue and beauty. Fire finds the royal family worthy of loyalty and risks her life to help them, but first she has to learn to use her ability to control minds -- and learn to trust herself.
Is it any good?
Elegant world-building creates a medieval fantasy full of mystery, romance, and complex characters with secrets that are slowly and carefully revealed. The main character is the most compelling, raising the bar for what makes the perfect heroine. Turning away from her monster heritage and living as a human -- and becoming embroiled in the moral obligations that come with that choice -- is just the beginning of her trials. And of course there's the heartbreak as well.
This is one of those books marketed to young adults that will also have a large adult readership due to the strong, heroic characters; beautiful imagery; and a setting in which women have many kinds of freedom and many kinds of power.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fantasy violence versus realistic violence. How do they impact you differently? Why do you think that is?
This book is marketed as Young Adult, but it will attract adult readers as well. Why do you think the publisher decided to market it to teens? What separates Young Adult from children's or adult literature?
And, just for fun: Fire can control minds, a common ability in fantasy and science fiction. What other supernatural powers are common in these types of works? What ability would you most like to have?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.