Oh, man, let me tell you about the first book that gave me the same chills I got from Tamora Pierce books.
Caruso handles female characters as every fantasy author should, granting them agency, complexity, and power of every type — magical, intellectual, and physical. Amalia makes for a charming high fantasy narrator: heir to an important household with the reticence of a woman surrounded all her life by suck-ups and manipulators. And it barely took a quarter of the book for me to fall madly in love with Zaira, who’s cuttingly witty and a total asshole. But, as she points out to Amalia, that very trait is one of the weapons that’s kept her safe all her life.
You can read this and even MORE word-barf over at Girls in Capes.