Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Author: Kristin Cashore
Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.
Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
The concept of "monsters" was confusing at first, probably because preconceived notions of monsters are ugly whereas these are so beautiful they muddle your head--making you easy prey. After a couple of chapters, it grew on me, and I think Ms. Cashore did a really good job with it. I really liked the fact that her interaction with Prince Brigan started off on probably the worst foot it could, and that their relationship slowly grew--it didn't just pop out of nowhere. I didn't start off the story thinking, "Well that relationship is pretty much set. " Particularly since she was already involved with someone, albeit in a more casual way than you'd expect.
This installment of the Seven Kingdoms books is actually set 30 years prior to GRACELING, and has a single crossover character, which anyone who has read the first book will recognize easily.
There were quite a few shocking moments later in the book, and the questions steadily piled up as the story progressed.
It wasn't an amazing book, but I did enjoy this book and I do recommend it, so this rating is...