The Girl of Fire and Thorns
By Rae Carson
Green Willow Books, 2011. 424 pgs. Teen fiction
Elisa, the second-born princess of Orovalle, is, on her sixteenth birthday, married off to the King Alejandro of Joya d'Arena. As she heads off to a new country, with a husband she doesn't know and only her nurse and a lady-in-waiting for company, Elisa must hide the secret that all of her countrymen know: she is the chosen one. Once every hundred years, God chooses a special servant by placing a gemstone in his or her navel; Elisa possesses that special stone and knows she is called of God, but has no idea what God would actually have her do or how she can be of any use to anyone. Soon, though, she must find a way to help her new countrymen stave off the take over of their country by the Invierne, powerful enemies whose sorcery and strength could easily overpower the people of Joya d'Arena. Still unsure of what exactly God would have her do, Elisa must rely on her faith and new friends to complete a mission that could very well get her killed.
I really enjoyed this new fantasy book, from the characters to the plot to the discussions of faith. Elisa's maturation process from an insecure, overprotected to princess to a fiercely faithful woman is satisfying. The book reads really quickly--I was actually surprised to see (after I'd finished it) that it was over 400 pages long, since it seemed to go by so quickly. A good choice for fans of high fantasy.