By the end of page 1, I was hooked. By the end of the first chapter I was in love with the 16 year old MC, Elisa. An overweight, unremarkable young woman - unlike the heroines of most fantasy novels written today. If it weren't for her age, this novel easily could be classified as adult fantasy, IMO. Elisa is unaware of how wise she really is, and Ms. Carson did a beautiful job of bringing this woman to life.
As for the world building and other characters in this debut novel ... phenominal job. Believable and vivid, I was transported to another land quite unlike our own. At least where I live, anyway.
Love, loss, religion, and magic, this story has it all. The only reason I didn't finish it in one sitting is because I have two little girls vying for my attention. Yeah. Sometimes a quickie read takes two weeks.
Anyhoo ... if you love fantasy as I do, I highly recommend this book. The only reason I didn't give it a full 5 stars is because a book has to MAKE me ignore whining, crying children to earn it. While this is a top notch story, I put it down with ease when needed.
Definitely looking forward to reading more from this awesome author!