I am lucky in that I got to begin reading this book right after finishing The Girl of Fire and Thorns, because when that books was over, I knew I wanted more. What I got with The Crown of Embers was definitely more, so much more, until I was swelling and glimmering with the delight this story gives me. And when I had read the last word and closed the book, I sat still for a moment and said to myself: This is the part where I start screaming.You know how sequels can be kinda scary, because if the first book was amazing, you worry that the second one might not measure up? Oh my god. I should have known that Rae Carson would blow my fears right out of the water. That screaming I was doing? It was tempered with grinning, because I loved this effing book, people!Elisa encounters one disaster after another, and each one tests her further. Her grip of power over her kingdom is weakening, and it seems like the world is crumbling beneath her sometimes. She is surrounded by people who hold her up, people who want to tear her down, people who adore her, people who are out to kill her, and people she can’t seem to face for one reason or another. But that GIRL, she SURVIVES! And the Godstone helps her through. Never have I admired a deity the way I do the God in Elisa’s world. The power that thrums through her Godstone, guiding her, helping her, and healing her.In The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa grew into herself as a person. In The Crown of Embers, Elisa grows into a woman and into a real queen. I truly admire the amount of introspection and personal growth that surrounds the main character in this series. It feels so especially refreshing, so satisfying, so right. Rae Carson is an artful storyteller, and the way each and every piece and person is weaved through Elisa’s journey is incredible. I was a captive audience right up until the very end.I think this is the first time I’ve rated a sequel higher than its predecessor. But, damn, this book was amazing. I can’t believe I have to wait so long for — *gulp* — The Bitter Kingdom. (How ominous does that sound? I’m squirming!)[NOTE: I read this book as an ARC, borrowed from my sister, who receives many, many awesome things in her mailbox.]More reviews and other bookish things at Another Novel Read.