Title: Of Fire and Stars
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: November 22, 2016
Number of Pages: 308
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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.
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 before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), 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 work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. 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.
“some things are more important than a crown.
Saving a kingdom.
Knowing your heart.
Or riding into the sunrise with a girl on a red horse.”
Of Fire and Stars is one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. I hate to admit it, but this book is probably one of the most disappointing books of this year.
Royalties and magic, of all the things I want to read about in this world, these two are on my top list. I am a lover of ADDICTED to books about royalties and magic. That’s why hearing and reading news about this debut novel really made me feel beyond excited – especially that the power of the main character is fire – which again, one of my favorites. But the execution of it was so weak and most of the time things felt flat. And the other elements just feel so poor and weak too. I didn’t get much entertained either. Princess Dennaleia and Princess Amaranthine’s love story is the only thing that made me entertained but still not at all times. This book gave me more disappointment more than entertainment. The thought really makes me sad, but that’s just how it is.
The story was told on alternating point of views; on Dennaleia’s and Amaranthine’s.
Princess Denneleaia or Denna was just an “okay” character on the beginning who became interesting in the long run. She is smart and not a princess who was only fit to arrange tea parties, entertain guests or decorate a palace. She is full of wit and logical. You can expect her to come up with a brilliant idea in some urgent situations more than any other princess can do. She is a princess who has the potential to become a leader but forced and expected to be just a princess who will always stand by her betrothed’s side and listen, just always listen.
Princess Amaranthine has a strong personality. She is the character I liked on the beginning and loved ‘till the end. Her character is screaming of IDGAF. Cool, independent and also not the kind of a princess who can take hosting parties and doing stuffs a lady princess must do. She loves freedom and horses. She may be stubborn, but that’s just another reason for me to like her. She’s willing to stand up for what is right and what she likes and wants to do with her own life. She’s the princess you cannot make do what you want her to do. She’ll do what she wants to.
Princess Dennaleia and Princess Amaranthine are just like the same. People want them to do these lady like stuffs but what they want is to give justice and help their kingdom by making it stronger and keeping its people safe, contented and happy. Both princesses have strong voices that people around them refuse to hear.
The book started okay. Princess Dennaleia of Havemont and her sister Princess Alisendi were introduced. It welcomed us to the story by showing how Princess Dennaleia discovered her affinity with fire. Even though the fact that Princess Dennaleia has affinity with fire already showed, I didn’t get that amazed or impressed by her immediately, which is WEIRD because that’s already a good reason for me to like her. But I got amazed only by the fact of a princess literally playing with fire and not that princess herself. The story was actually boring and went the same way longer than it should be. I started to enjoy it from Chapter 35 where things finally get exciting. I loved it from this chapter up to the end which is Chapter 45 but still those few chapters aren’t enough to make up for the disappointment it brought from the start.
It was also predictable. I despise how predictable some things were, especially those things that should have been the very source of mystery and intrigue in this book. You’ll already know who the real enemy is. It’s quite obvious and easy to figure out when it should be the trickiest part.
The world-building was weak. And that’s what disappoints me the most. There’s a map where different kingdoms were showed. But it seems useless since there was no world building at all that can make me interested and keep going back to the map to picture things in my mind. Instead of being dragged and curious about its world, nothing happened. Reading books about royalties, their worlds are what I was always excited for. Sadly, I got nothing on this book.
Instead of holding back, I called on each of the gods who had ever answered me, opening myself fully to the power with no regard for the consequences. A rush of exhilaration took me as the magic flooded in. Fire came easily, sparking between my fingers until my hands blazed as brightly as the sun. Earth was reluctant but formed an anchor. I reached for the stars themselves until streaks of light painted the night sky. And finally I summoned air to guide the destruction home. A furious wind flung off my hood and whipped my hair as I brought down a storm of falling stars.
If scenes like this happened already at least a couple of times in the early part of the book, DANG! I would have surely ENJOYED it. This is what I have been waiting for so long. Why did it have to happen a few chapters away to the end? See how chances to make it more exciting and be the best thing ever just slipped away.
There was a time where I felt like finishing this was the only reason for reading this, not the pleasure or entertainment anymore because honestly, I barely felt entertained in this book. I didn’t care where things will go anymore. All I wanted was to finish it because I hate the idea of DNF-ing a book especially that if it is one of my most anticipated reads. So I decided to hold on and hope that things will get better. Fortunately, I somehow found something to love and enjoy in this book.
Dennaleia and Amaranthine’s tandem, that’s the only aspect in this book that made me entertained and apparently, caught my heart. When these two met, they neither had a relationship with the same sex before nor had special feelings. They’re both straight, that’s why I was so intrigued on how they are going to handle things and their newly discovered feelings.
Dennaleia’s feelings or attachment to Amaranthine may seem a bit fast but the relationship of these two was slowly and strongly built. Denna and Mare’s relationship proved that love has no boundaries. It sees no age, no gender, no race, no limits, no circumstances. That’s the message Of Fire and Stars give and the thing I loved in this book. I could go on and on and on reading Dennaleia and Amaranthine’s story for God knows how long.
“Partnerships can be built, but love can’t be coaxed. Love should feel like the first time you gallop a horse flat out. It should make your blood sing. It should terrify you. And some part of you should recognize it the first time you meet the other person’s eyes.”
Their chemistry is one of the best! I’ve read books with lgbt characters a couple of times before but I was used to reading stories with gay characters than lesbians and it was honestly new for me to ship lesbian couples. And despite of how disappointed I felt on the most elements of this book, I’m glad that this is my first read where girl-girl relationship is involved. Denna and Mare’s characters just perfectly fit for each other. And dang, they’re too HOT! They made me swoon and made me feel giddy most of the time – especially Amaranthine! I love the emotions they made me feel. They’re now definitely one of my favorite lgbt characters.
Overall, it was disappointing and there’s nothing much to expect in this book – the total opposites of what I had truly imagined before reading this – though it has A LOT of potential, which made it more disappointing. But there is still one thing to love in this book, and that are the main characters, Princess Dennaleia and Princess Amaranthine. I swear, there’s nothing more beautiful than reading a love story of two individuals who are obviously meant to be. #LoveWins
Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. Her debut novel, Of Fire and Stars, will be published on November 22, 2016 by Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.
Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University, is a member of SCBWI, and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
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*Thank you very much HarperCollins International for providing me an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest book reviews.