What: Of Fire and Stars (Of Fire and Stars #1) by Audrey Coulthurst
Who: Balzer + Bray
When: November 22nd 2016
How: A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.
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.
I had somewhat of an interesting time reading Of Fire and Stars. Hands down, it was one of my most anticipated 2016 releases. A YA fantasy with an f/f romance at its heart? We all know that we need more of those. And besides, this had the added ~forbidden love~ element, which is a plus when it’s not a boring allocishet story.
When I started Of Fire and Stars, I was kind of like: oh, no. Because (not including the prologue) it started off with Dennaleia falling over and being generally useless in front of her betrothed. And being scared of horses.
And then I found out that Dennaleia wasn’t the only POV character in this book, even though the blurb makes it sound like she is the only one. Her love interest, Mare (this name. I cannot with this name), also had POV chapters – in fact, they alternated equally. Mare was extremely immature in the beginning of this book. She’s eighteen years old, and yet acts so much younger than that. She can’t stand Dennaleia, and despises the fact that she has to teach her how to ride a horse.
You could say that the romance in Of Fire and Stars was that of the slow burning type. The girls don’t even really like each other to begin with, and start a friendship before either of them fall for the other. Kisses only happen towards the end of the book, which is kind of awesome. However. I say it could be called slow burn. I think it was supposed to be slow burn. But … the romance also kind of came out of nowhere. I like my slow burn to be a gradual realisation of hey, this cutie has my heart not a sudden change from ugh, this girl, I hate her to I love her and my life is wretched because I can’t have her. I wanted more of the in between bit. I felt like this happened more on Dennaleia’s side, rather than Mare’s, but I still just wanted a bit more of the ‘falling’ in love part.
The world of Of Fire and Stars was pretty awesome. I loved the idea of gods being originally based off mages, and I always love fantasies with magic use in them (they always feel so much more like a fantasy when there’s magic). I also really liked how Mynaria loved horses. But, sadly, I felt like the world building was halfway done. I wanted to know why Mynaria loved horses so much, and why they were so important to their culture. I wanted to know why the mages had gone from revered to hated over time. I just wanted more in general from the world building, because it had so much potential, and I felt like half of it was unused.
I have to say that the ending was dramatic and kind of came out of nowhere, and I was starting to think that it would be the first in the series. It would seem that it isn’t, as the ending did come around with some closure.
All in all, I ended up enjoying Of Fire and Stars. Sure, there were things that I think could have been expanded on that probably would have made me fall head over heels with it, but I am still going to recommend this for anyone looking for a standalone fantasy, and one with an f/f romance to boot.
© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning: death of uncle (murder), death of father (murder), murder (including that of a friend), animal cruelty (murder), use of abelist language, and forced marriage (not fulfilled) in this novel