The Crown of Embers is the sequel to the amazing The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which I’ve reviewed previously. This review will contain spoilers for the first book, so if you haven’t read it yet, please do. The first book is amazing. And if you’re wondering if the sequel lives up to its potential… yes. It does.
Once again, we follow Elisa, now the queen of Joya d’Arena. She still has low self-esteem issues (it’s hinted that, while she’s no longer obese, she’s still chubby) but she’s still this incredibly smart, strong character we’ve grown to love.
Right off the bat, as Elisa travels across the city in a celebratory parade, there’s an attack, a sign that the Invierno threat is still not gone, despite what many had thought. In order to know how she can destroy her enemies once and for all, Elisa will go in a dangerous journey, where her Godstone and her faith are her only guides. Throughout the book she grows, becoming even stronger and more determined than she was before.
Slowly, we watch Elisa fall in love with someone new, and it’s a mix between amusement and frustration—the good kind, though. I’m not going to lie, I had seen this romance coming from almost the beginning of the first book. It made sense. You’re reading about it and you already know Elisa is in love, and that the man is in love with her as well, but the characters don’t. And then Rae Carson teases you with these touches, these kisses, these scenes, and you’ll be slightly angry that nothing really happens but at the same time you’ll be glad because she’s keeping her characters true to themselves. And when Elisa finally admits her love, it’s in a dire situation and you’ll adore her even more for it.
The romance in this book was, in my opinion, far better than the one in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and while it was a great part of the book, it was not my favourite. Elisa alone still takes the cake (pun intended, since she loves those) for being the most amazing, smart, resourceful, stubborn heroine ever. Main characters in Young Adult are becoming clichés, and she’s a breath of fresh air in that trend.
But what I admire the most about Elisa is her balance between recklessness and calculated risk. She enlists the help of unconventional allies—one of them an Invierno himself. She navigates a world of treachery and manipulation with surprising grace. And when the time comes to choose between ultimate power and her humanity, her choice will surprise you. Again, Rae Carson is true to her characters no matter what, and Elisa’s choice is a reflection of herself. I didn’t get why she did it at first, but then I realized it would have been even more outrageous if things had been different.
The writing is, like in the first book, nearly flawless. The pictures of Elisa’s surroundings are clear and the characterization is absolutely top-notch. Really, you’ll have trouble finding a Young Adult book whose writing is as clear and as intricate as this one.
The Crown of Embers is a worthy successor of its predecessor, a book I absolutely could not put down. You’ll fall even more in love with Elisa (really, I can’t stress it enough: I adore her) and, in the end, you’ll be crushed that the last book is not out yet.
Yes, it’s that good.
The Crown of Embers
- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 1 edition (September 18, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062026518
- ISBN-13: 978-0062026514