Graceling, a sort of prequel set in the same universe, but not on the same lands, with different characters and different elements. In short, if it weren't for one character in common and some references to the Graceling world, it could have been a totally different book.
This book takes place on the other side of the mountains, where there are no Gracelings, but that doesn't mean there aren't special powers. What exists in The Dells are special people and animals, which draw the normal ones to them, and have powers of their own. These are called monsters, and Fire, the protagonist of the book, is one of them. But, even if the name suggests something hideous, Fire can only be described as a great beauty, which mesmerises most men, to the point marriages proposals (among other things) are commonplace for her.
The story starts with an archer that mistakenly shoots Fire, but before he can say who he is and who he is working for he is killed. Fire will try to discover who was this archer, getting tangled up in political matters. However, as a monster, people don't trust her, and she has decide if helping her King is worth both the distrust of everyone and the fact that they are using her for her monster-qualities.
I believe I shouldn't have read this book right after Graceling, it suffered from comparison. Because while I liked this one, it didn't make me squee like a schoolgirl the way Graceling did. But I really should try to make a review that the doesn't focus on the differences between the first and second book (and will undoubtedly fail).
Fire is interesting, with a political plot as well as some romance. It was easy to go to this new world, even with what I knew from the first one. I kept turning page after page, not noticing the end was coming, and that the hours were passing.
I really have to show my admiration for the author, because it is not easy to come up with a world where there are fuchsia raptors, and not making it sound like a bad trip on acid. Fuchsia and lime animals didn't make me stare at the pages in disbelief, it added more magic to a place that I kept seeing in dull greys and browns.
If in Graceling one of the themes was Kings, in Fire we have Fathers, and I enjoyed slowly learning about Fire's father, even if there was not much surprise to its ending. It served to show how Fire grew, and the reason to a lot of the discrimination and hate she was constantly facing.
I liked this book, but kept comparing it to Graceling, which is not really fair. The book stands well on its own, it is very enjoyable, with a good plot, good characters and good worldbuilding.