I enjoyed this immensely. The world-building is fairly similar to George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and many other fantasy novels of the like, in that it’s built mostly on a medieval world of lords, ladies, courts, and stone castles, (and winter. is there some kind of rule that 70% of fantasy novels take place in winter?). Fire is the only human monster left in the world populated by humans and animal monsters. Unlike the animal monsters, she is intelligent, and she has essentially a human form, but she’s also gifted (or cursed) with two un-human qualities: an otherworldly, spellbinding beauty, and the ability to read, and influence, the minds of other living creatures (both animal and human).
This has the same emotional intensity, romantic center, and driving pace of plot as Cecilia Dart Thornton’s Bitterbynde novels, and for those I liked it very much indeed. Said plot is a little threadbare – one of the reviewers I read was completely right in saying that this oddly skirts around both young adult and adult camps without really falling into either. As far as emotional complexity and the unabashed, frequent references to very dark topics such as rape, this definitely falls in the adult camp. But the simplicity of the plot and world-building pull it back into YA, where overall it fits more comfortably I think. This is not at all an experimental or unique book, but it is BEAUTIFULLY realized and vivid and its characters leap off the page. Gripping enough that I finished it in one night. Definitely recommend for any fans of Thornton, McKinley, or Suzanne Collins.