A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers may be interested in exploring other strong female fantasy characters. See our recommended book list for some ideas. Also, our "Families Can Talk About" section can help readers do some critical thinking about the difference between violence and fantasy violence and what makes a book Young Adult.
At heart, this is a tale of triumphing over adversity. Fire and Brigan, despite growing up in sumptuous conditions, overcome tremendous adversity through their perseverance, belief in humanity, and willingness to sacrifice.
Positive Role Models
Fire is strong female character with a level of resiliency and integrity that we would all love to see in our children. Despite being raised, literally, by a monster, she's loving, forgiving, brave, and generous. She is drawn to her love interest by the same qualities present in him.
Violence & Scariness
This is a fantasy novel with fantasy violence: In the first chapter, a young Graceling tortures small animals and murders his father. Assassinations, war, bloody attacks, non-graphic rape, and plots to murder enemies abound. Not a lot of blood and gore, though -- mostly political intrigue. Fire has one violent secret in her past that comes to light. Many men are overcome by Fire's beauty and attempt to rape her; she can read their minds and violent intentions even if they don't get physically close to her. Fire herself is the product of a rape of a human female by a monster male.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Fire becomes intimate with her best friend when she's 15. Infidelity is key to the love story, and two minor characters become pregnant. One vague allusion to a brief love between Fire and a servant girl.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Romantic Fantasy Books for Teens
Thrilling Books for Teens Who Love Fantasy
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.See how we rate