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Fire  - Kristin Cashore Read this review at Smash Attack Reads! http://www.smashattackreads.com/2011/06/review-fire-by-kristin-cashore.html"Not all people who inspired devotion were monsters."Fire is not a continuation of Graceling, but more of a companion novel. You can call it a prequel, because it does take place in time before Katsa’s story. You will only run into one familiar character from Graceling however, and it will make you gasp. Seriously. The prologue made me gasp! I was not prepared for that sneaky little bit of storytelling. Fire takes place in the world of Graceling, but far removed in an area that was never mentioned in Graceling (that I remember). This area of the map, The Dells, is a land of monsters. And by monsters, I mean inhumanly beautiful equivalents to all other creatures (from humans to bugs to kittens to flying beasties) with a dangerous ability to control humans. And for that, they are hated and feared.This hatred grew out of the misuse and abuse of power by one legendary monster, Cansrel, who just so happens to be Fire’s father. Fire fits the mold of a monster. She is breathtakingly beautiful, with hair the color of? You guessed it. Fire! Thankfully for others, Fire has morals and is not proud of her ability to manipulate thoughts and emotions, yet she has withdrawn away from most of the world, keeping only a few select people as company. It is probably for the better. You see, due to her nature and extraordinary features, people either despise or lust after Fire upon sight.A story unfolds as Fire’s presence is requested to help King Nash uncover the motives of two other kings who seem to be slowly devising a plan to overthrow his kingdom. King Nash and his brother, Brigan, commander of their army, are not fond of bringing Fire to their city. They do not trust her because it was her father who manipulated their father and turned him into a wretched man. Brigan especially despises her upon first contact, while Nash is quite taken by her. Of course there is a major plot to the story, but it’s a bit complex to explain. Just know that Fire and Brigan have to travel and work together, and throughout the book, they begin to understand, appreciate and value the other. Their budding romance is natural and wonderful as it slowly evolves into something beautiful and coveted. Their relationship brought tears to my eyes due to the sheer pureness of it. Their entire relationship is subtle but the emotion is BANG, in your face. It got me good. The author’s writing is magnificent and she excels at characterization. Her characters literally jump off the pages! I also enjoyed the author’s use of flashbacks. Fire experiences flashbacks of times spent with her father, and they are so interesting and revealing, and really help you to connect more to her. The personal insight, which is very important with Fire’s character, is what sucked me in. Knowing her intimate thoughts was quite fascinating to me. Fire is an incredible protagonist. She never once let her power corrupt her, she always held her composure and her compassion for animals and humans alike was powerful and determined.I dare say I enjoyed this book a bit more than Graceling, only by a small measure though. Fire is quite a compelling tale of a young woman who faces loss, adversity, persecution and prejudice head on, and pulls through a winner, all the while remaining true to herself. This book and its profound protagonist are on my list of awesome.