Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

The Crown of Embers - Rae Carson See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!I can still sum up exactly how I felt about The Girl of Fire and Thorns easily: a great idea with a fantastic scene or two, but its plotting and forehadowing needed vast improvements. The Crown of Embers bore the weight of all my hopes for improvement but unfortunately, there is no growth. This is at the exact same level of quality as book one. I'm a genuine fan, but it's frustrating to have to deal with so much bad to get so much good.Elisa continues to grow as a person and grow into her role as a queen. It forces her to do some pretty terrible things and she still gets tricked every now and then, but she's still growing and figuring out who she is. Some of her mistakes are a little more irritating--like wishing only beauty, charm, and a slender body on a baby; for someone who used to be overweight and put more value on intelligence, she's suddenly quite shallow--but I can deal with it. Her relationship with Hector builds well, though their dramatics toward the end grow tiring very quickly.I got annoyed for a bit because of everyone challenging Elisa's rule due to her gender and saying she had to marry ASAP, but thankfully, Elisa is pissed off by it too and it's never justified. Still, I am so tired of seeing this in fantasy novels. Why have I read only a single fantasy novel where no one has any problem with a queen ruling on her own? That's just sad. We need more!Both my main problems with this novel are issues that carried over from the first book: lacking plotting and blatant foreshadowing.At some points, turning the pages came natural to me and they practically flew by; other times, fifty pages lay ahead of me and such a small number of pages was such a grand struggle to get through. The first half of the novel completely failed to grab me, though the climax and the hurricane scene (the hands-down best scene of the entire novel) were perfectly written. There are no ways to make them better than they already are. The problem is simply that the court intrigue that drives the first half of the novel simply doesn't interest me, especially because it's so obvious what is going on. Speaking of which...Oh, the foreshadowing: it's subtle like a hammer to your bare feet. In the very first chapters of the novel, Franco's name is connected to no less than two serious incidents and he is blatantly suspicious, but Elisa never really investigates him, nor does she realize what the general and the conde are planning. Both of those details are so screamingly obvious that I was screaming at the book/Elisa to wake up and look at what's right in front of her face. I think this is supposed to be an attempt at Checkhov's Gun, but it fails badly.There's also a moment toward the end that's supposed to be tense. Elisa has to sacrifice a character to get what she needs, but readers haven't even gotten to know that character well enough to care about him and give his sacrifice any weight. Then she doesn't have to sacrifice him after all and if it had weight before, it certainly doesn't now. "Frustrating" is the word of this book.I like this series. I do. Putting words to the good of this novel is a much harder than detailing the flaws, sadly. It's one of those books. I'm looking forward to the release of The Bitter Kingdom next year and a little sad about the series coming to an end (though Carson has signed a deal to write a new historical fantasy trilogy once the Fire and Thorns trilogy is done; I'll probably be reading that too). But really, if the plotting does not get better and the foreshadowing does not become less obvious, I may just shove my head through a wall.