The Girl of Fire and Thorns tells the story of Elisa – Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle – who’s been “special” since she was born. Not every child born is gifted with a Godstone, after all. So Elisa is Chosen, and meant to DO GREAT THINGS. But at sixteen, Elisa doesn’t feel so special. She has no real skills or abilities, having been cosseted and closeted with holy books all her life. She also eats away her doubts, which doesn’t help said doubts because the only result is weight gain.Then her parents arrange for her to be married to the ruler of a neighboring kingdom, and all Elisa can pray for is that he is old, fat, and ugly — because then maybe her weight (heavy), looks (plain), and lack of abilities won’t be remarked upon. Unfortunately for Elisa, King Alejandro is gorgeous and kind. And wants to keep their marriage a secret…Thus Elisa’s journey begins. As she navigates her new life, she’s drawn into political battles and fights against the perceptions based on her weight. Then Elisa is kidnapped, and the girl whose life has been quiet and calm up to now goes through yet another upheaval.There’s a lot in The Girl of Fire and Thorns — a young and insecure heroine, adventure and growth opportunities aplenty, and a diverse cultural landscape. Each trial and tribulation Elisa survives has her maturing and opening her eyes to the world around her. Each chapter introduces another element to the story, until the cast of characters is complete and the plot revealed. This is a story with many parts, and Carson fits them all together nicely by the time we get to the last page.The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a fabulous read for those who enjoy their fantasy a little lighter on the magic and heavier on the coming-of-age. The third book, The Bitter Kingdom comes out in August, so I have time to grab The Crown of Embers and get caught up!drey’s rating: Excellent!