Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Audio

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Audio

Rae Carson
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: Jennifer Ikeda
HarperAudio, 2012 

On Elisa’s naming day, when she was only a few days old, an incredible thing happened in the church just before the priest was about to pour holy water on her forehead. A beam of light shone down on Elisa and when Elisa’s big sister uncovered the baby’s swaddling, everyone saw that there was a Godstone in the baby’s belly button. Every one hundred years God chooses a child to be his “chosen” one, and that person is thereafter “destined for service.”

Elisa has often wondered why she, of all people, was chosen for such an honor. Surely her big sister Alodia would be better suited for such a responsibility. Alodia is beautiful, athletic, and she has diligently studied statecraft and every other subject that she needs to know to be a successful queen. Elisa is a book worm who is not beautiful, and whose fondness for food has caused her to get rather large.

Now, on Elisa’s sixteenth birthday, she is being married to King Alejandro de Vega who rules Joya, the large land neighboring Elisa’s own small country. She has heard that her marriage is part of some treaty agreement but does not understand why the wedding has been so rushed. As Elisa walks up the aisle of the church she hopes that her husband-to-be will be old and bowed, but Alejandro turns out to be a young and very handsome man. Elisa dreads to know what he must think of his clumsy, sweaty and plump wife.

Just a day after the wedding Elisa and Alejandro begin their long journey to Brisadulce, the capital of Joya. The journey is uncomfortable and in the jungle they are attacked by brigands. Elisa manages to save herself, her nurse and her lady’s maid when their carriage catches on fire, but in the end the maid dies of her wounds.

When they get to Brisadulce Elisa cannot understand why Alejandro does not want anyone to know that they are wed, but she honors his request not to tell anyone. She also agrees not to tell anyone that she the bearer of the Godstone, though she once again does not understand why her status needs to be a secret.

Elisa then asks a priest and scholar for information about the Godstone, and she finds out that everyone has been keeping a secret from her. Apparently the bearer is never told that “great danger awaits the bearer.” Many of the past bearers died young, killed by their enemies. The priest also tells Elisa that her nurse, Lady Ximena, is actually her guardian and protector. Now Elisa knows why Ximena refuses to allow Elisa to go about on her own.

Elisa is then invited to gather with the Five. Together with the king, Elisa, and three other people discuss matters of state and they help the king to make important decisions about the country. It turns out that the enemy that has plagued Elisa’s country for a long time, Invierne, is causing a lot of trouble in the hill country and the king is not sure if he should go to war with this enemy to protect the people there. He is inclined not to, even though his mistress and advisor insists that he should protect her people. Elisa counsels the king not to take on the enemy in the hills, but to bide his time and let them venture out into the desert, where the king’s soldiers will have the upper hand.

Not long after this meeting takes place, Elisa’s maid sees the Godstone in Elisa’s navel and though Elisa tells the girl to tell no one, the maid does not comply. Instead, she arranges for Elisa to be drugged and kidnapped and the princess is taken from her husband’s palace and is forced to travel with her captors to the hill country. Her kidnappers want the bearer of the Godstone to help them fight back against the soldiers of Invierne, who have been attacking the hill country people for some time now. Elisa does not know what she can do for the people, but when she sees their plight she is moved by their desperation. For the first time in her life she feels that she has a purpose, that perhaps she has found the service that she has to perform for others. Helping the hill people will be dangerous, but that does not matter for Elisa was chosen to serve those who need her help.

This gripping audio book takes listeners on a journey to a land where magic and religion clash, and where a young princess struggles to understand her purpose and her faith. It is fascinating to hear how Elisa comes into her own and how she changes as she grows and learns.