Title: Of Fire and Stars
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Pages: 389 pages
Release Date: November 22nd, 2016
Source: Hardcover from Novel Tea Club Box
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBT
Rating: 4/5 out of 5 stars
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.Saying I was excited for this book would be a vast understatement. I went into this book knowing I was going to love it because lgbt romance in a fantasy novel? Yes please. This is exactly what the Young Adult fantasy genre is missing these days- some diversity!
Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.
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Princess Dennaleia has always known her fate. Her future is in the kingdom of Mynaria, betrothed to its crown prince. Her arranged marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and Havemont. Denna expects to be pampered and taught the responsibilities of a queen. What she doesn't see coming is a beautiful princess with pale green eyes, Princess Amaranthine, better known as Prince's Thandilimon hot-headed sister. In a kingdom so keen on dispelling its enemies and forbidding magic, one princess must hide her growing powers and her love for the girl she knows she can't have. The other must find her place in the kingdom and a way to go behind everything she's ever been taught to love a girl who is not hers.
"I kissed her slowly, deeply, every feeling I had for her pooling into my lips as I tasted the sweetness of her."
I was absolutely blown away with the direction that the author took with the story's POV. It was told through the eyes of both Princess Dennaleia and Princess Amaranthine. For some reason reading the synopsis, I thought this book was only going to be told through Denna's point of view. I'm usually not a big fan of dual perspectives, as much as I am with multiple perspective books, but I loved the way it was told in this one. Especially because both princesses were such different people who had such different insights in what was good for the kingdom. There wasn't too much overlap, which is something that tends to annoy me.
There was a lot of great political intrigue quite reminiscent of the aspects I loved in the Winner's Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. Each page requires your full attention as you pay mind to which kingdoms are warring with who and the power that each kingdom holds. However, that also led the book to drag many times in the middle. I found myself often times bored of hearing about the quarrel between the kingdoms.
Prior to starting the book, I was terrified of it becoming too much of a contemporary novel. I'm glad to say that this book held its reputation as a fantasy novel. The story held a great pace and it was hard to see all those plot twists coming! I was blown away by how the author was able to focus so much on the political intrigue of the story, while also maintaining a presence of magic. Coulthurst's writing is easy to get into and takes on its own unique voice. Although the lack of any real world-building is a popular point among many negative reviews, it didn't bother me all that much. It really depends on your preference as a reader. I think what this book lacked in world-building and the development of the magic system, it made up for with brilliant characters and lots of yummy political intrigue.
And if that doesn't convince you, how about this? The side characters were phenomenal; all fully developed with complex personalities and motivations. There is Nils (Princess Amaranthine's best friend), Alisendi (Princess Denna's sister), Prince Thandilimon and Lord Kriantz (a lord from another kingdom). I was blown away by how much I felt invested in not only the main characters but the side characters as well. I cared about all of the characters, including the antagonists!
F/F romances in fantasy novels are rare in YA. Cue my unruly squealing and fangirling. The chemistry between the two princesses was on fire! Every moment they were together, you could feel the sparks flying out from the book. Just seeing their relationship blossom through each chapter brought great joy to my heart. These two characters were a great example of FOIL, where we see their differences bring out the best in each other.
Of Fire and Stars surprised me. A lot of the aspects I normally find in a fantasy novel were absent, but I think that was kind of the point. Truth be told, I think the only thing that made this book a fantasy was its pacing and the presence of magic. Sure, this book read more like a fantasy-contemporary novel.
I would definitely recommend this book! This is Coulthurst's debut novel, and I never imagined liking it as much as I did.