When I was younger, I devoured fantasy stories. Unicorns, dragons and magical lands were my favourites, especially if the book was written by Piers Anthony. Then something happened, I grew up and I lost my interest in fantasy. I've tried to jump back into the genre a few times, but found the plots hard to follow. Perhaps it's characters named Rxysharisk or trying to remember who's half falcon and half ogre or any other fantastical concept. Or perhaps it's just a side effect of growing older, since it became harder and harder to relate to a world so far removed from our own.Then one day, Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books and I were chatting about fantasy on Twitter. I told her about the fact that I used to love fantasy, and wished that I could rekindle that love again. She's a fantasy connoisseur, so I asked her for a recommendation. She mentioned that she had heard good things about The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and asked if I'd like to read it with her. Emboldened by the concept of having a fantasy friend on hand in case I got confused, I agreed.Wow. What a book! Perhaps this isn't the most fantastical of all fantasy books out there (i.e. I'm still not quite ready to dive into Game of Thrones), but I really did love experiencing this magical world. I'd almost label this book as fantasy for those that claim they don't like fantasy, since the characters and their struggles are very real-world, even though the setting is a fantastical world. There are no dragons or mythological creatures in the story, but there is magic and a really great story.Elisa is a great heroine, blessed with a godstone in her navel from the time that she was a baby. Bearing the godstone means that she is destined to accomplish a great act of service, but she doesn't yet know what that act might be. I was frustrated at times by Elisa's constant obsession with her weight and her figure (she constantly compares herself to others), but I did enjoy the way her character developed throughout the course of the book.Rae Carson's greatest strength, in my opinion, is description. She paints such vivid pictures of the scenery, the characters, the food, the clothes, everything. I felt that the novel engaged all of my senses and I was swept up in the magic of it all. The story is well-paced, balancing slower portions of character development and description with some action-packed scenes that had me flying through the pages and hoping that Marko would stay napping just a little longer so that I could finish the book!THANK YOU Alexa, for encouraging me to read this one. I've already put The Crown of Embers on hold at the library and I'm eager to read the continuation of Elisa's adventures.