cover image The Crown of Embers

The Crown of Embers

Rae Carson. Greenwillow, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-0620-2651-4

Carson’s sequel to her debut, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, is a superb fantasy built around an exceptional heroine. Just months after leading her adopted country to victory against the sorcerers of Invierne, 17-year-old Queen Elisa has to deal with spies, a possible traitor in the palace, and pressure from her own council to marry or cede power to a regent. Additionally, the Inviernos are back, and they want her to sacrifice herself willingly to them, or they will rain destruction and death on her people. Dodging attempted assassination and kidnapping, Elisa is pulled by the mysterious Godstone embedded in her navel to find the zafira, the soul of the world and the source of its magic, embarking on a gripping journey that ramps up the tension and sets up the finale. Carson avoids the dips that often haunt bridge books: expert pacing and well-drawn characters are masterfully integrated with Elisa’s continued growth as she deals with the shifting political situation, resulting in a dramatic and gratifyingly romantic novel that smoothly follows its predecessor. Ages 13–up. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. (Sept.)