Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins | Greenwillow Books
Pages: 288 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
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Summary (from Goodreads)
A paperback edition of three novellas set within the world of the New York Times bestselling Girl of Fire and Thorns series, previously available only digitally: The Shadow Cats, The Shattered Mountain, and The King’s Guard.
The Shadow Cats is told from the perspective of Elisa’s older sister. Discover how their sibling rivalry looks from Alodia’s viewpoint, and find out why Alodia agrees to marry her sister off to King Alejandro of Joya de Vega.
The Shattered Mountain revolves around Elisa’s best friend and handmaiden, Mara. Before she meets Elisa at the rebel camp in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, she suffers her own tragedy. Her village is destroyed and she must lead the few young survivors to safety.
The King’s Guard centers on Hector, Commander of the Royal Guard and Elisa’s true love. Set years before The Girl of Fire and Thorns, it shows us fifteen-year-old Hector as a new recruit. He must prove himself—and he discovers a secret he must keep forever.
Thoughts on The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories
I fell in love with this series not too long ago, but I never bought the e-novellas. So, I was thrilled when I saw they were being released in paperback form! The Girl of Fire & Thorns Stories focuses on three secondary characters from the series: 1) Alodia, Elisa's older sister, 2) Mara, Elisa's best friend and handmaiden, and 3) Hector, the hottest Commander of the Royal Guard and Elisa's true love.
At the beginning of the book, Carson writes about how writers are advised to make sure every secondary character has their own story, their own dreams and fears, etc. Whether or not it ever makes it onto the page, having that backstory and information is how your secondary characters can become fully developed and realistic in their own right. It's a great way to preface these stories - a reminder that these "bonus" stories reveal a lot of why these characters make the choices that they do in the full-length novels.
The Shadow Cats is Alodia's story, and it helps you better understand the tense relationship between these two sisters. Since you really only see Elisa's perspective in the books, this gave me new insight into how Alodia views her sister and why she treats her the way that she does. I think I was better able to sympathize with Alodia than I had been previously because I started to really think about what it would mean to be the older sister to someone like Elisa who was "chosen" and revered.
The Shattered Mountain is Mara's story, and it's almost my favorite of the three (Hector's story wins because Hector). Mara meets Elisa at the rebel camp in the series, but what events led her there? Seeing Mara's loss and pain made me really appreciate her character arc in the books. I think you see her strength and bravery in this story, which I loved. And it made me want to re-read the books now that I know her better!
Finally, The King's Guard is about Hector. If all three stories weren't going to be about him, I can at least appreciate what we learn about him in this story. He's a brand-new recruit hoping to join the Royal Guard, but he's got to prove himself first. The secret that he discovers was so shocking - I loved getting this new information. Honestly, this story just reminded me of all the reasons Hector is so amazing. Brave, loyal, principled... Hector is a person you can count on to do the right thing, and this story just highlights that so well!
While you don't have to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories, I do think it's a nice little bonus addition to the series. I didn't love them as much as I do the books, and I secretly wanted to see more of Hector and Elisa together, but I can appreciate these for what they reveal about the thought and work that Carson put into all her characters. Overall, it was a fun and quick read that made me want to re-read the series so I could experience the epic adventures all over again!