Fire is a woman loved by all yet hated by most - the moment anyone looks upon her, they are instantly (and sometimes violently) drawn to her. She is a human monster, cursed with the most beautiful hair all the colors of flame: red, pink, orange, yellow and green. She has the power to enter people's minds and must always choose to either control them for her own protection, or leave them as a respect of privacy. It's a terrifying conflict and one that proves often dangerous for her because of others' desires to exploit it. Enter Prince Brigan - a warrior bent on allowing Fire no access to his mind or his life. Or so she thinks.

Though the book is a fantasy, the characters and their struggles are relevant and even exsistential in nature. What is the meaning of control? When is it acceptable to wield power? How far would you go to keep others safe, even if it meant sacrificing something you loved? In the war-filled times we live in, I couldn't help but make comparisons and admire Cashore's deft handling of the difficult subject matter. I loved the main character: complex, tortured, intuitive, powerful and vulnerable all at the same time. It's the kind of book that you love to have with you everywhere you go - not only because you're at the edge of your seat, but because every time you open the pages, there's a familiarity there that feels like home. You hate to leave this amazing creature when you turn the last page. Good thing Cashore already supplied us with Graceling (also excellent as a stand alone book) and will soon come out with Bitterblue (due out April 2011) to finish the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy.

Recommended by Jill Cluff

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