New Release Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
New Release Review: Of Fire and Stars
by Audrey Coulthurst
Today we bring you a review for the newly released Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. We are happy to introduce Nicole, a new reviewer for BookCrushin! Nicole used to run her own blog, but these days she is focusing on her breathtaking bookstagram, so we invited her to review for us whenever she feels inclined!
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Category: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT
Publication: November 22nd, 2016; Balzer + Bray
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.
Believe it or not, Of Fire and Stars had been my most anticipated book for 2016. It even surpassed Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. I recommended it to everyone and their mothers because HELL YES, a fantasy novel with LGBTQ+ main characters. This is probably why I feel utterly disappointed that this story fell flat to me.
With Of Fire and Stars, you are just thrown into the story. Princess Dennaleia moves to Mynaria to marry its prince and form an alliance between their kingdoms. The problem? This kingdom hates magic, and Denna happens to excel in it. Of course, there’s no explanation of why magic is banned or what this magic can do or anything. There isn’t any kind of world building or character background or anything to give you any idea what happens and why.
The most ridiculous thing I find in this book were the names. Prince Thandilimon or Thandi for short, sounds like a 10 year old child’s name, Princess Amaranthine, nicknamed Mare, who lives for….yes, HORSES. I can’t even remember half of the other’s names, they are just unnecessarily long and unpronounceable. Even Mare says that.
“For the love of the Six, don’t call me that. Just Mare. Yes, like a horse.
Stupid, I know, but I can’t stand Amaranthine.
What a ridiculously overlong and pretentious collection of syllables.”
While not the best, my favorite part in Of Fire and Stars is probably the romance. It is a very, very slow burn, kind of from hate to heat thing, but eventually, we get to it. I love how they formed a friendship first, but I don’t like that they try to deny their feelings for each other. If it wasn’t for their relationship, I probably would have DNFed it halfway through. I’ve been longing for any kind of LGBTQ+ fantasy novel that focuses equally on the romance and the other parts and while this book isn’t that, it comes very close.
My favorite characters are Nils and Casmiel. Nils is Mare’s best friend, a member of the castle guards and just an overall funny and enjoyable character. Casmiel is the uncle of Thandi and Mare and actually probably the most welcoming person who Denna meets on her first days in a foreign kingdom. The ending – along with most of the book – is predictable, sadly. It kind of has an open ending, that would prepare for a sequel but is satisfying on its own. The story itself, beside the romance part, is very boring and feels like it’s not going anywhere. I kept waiting for something exciting or surprising turn of events, and I’m still waiting for it, because it doesn’t happen. Sometimes the characters think and act like children literally, instead of the almost adults or actual adults they are.
All in all, I was waiting for an epic story with a beautiful forbidden love between girls, and got a dull world that only the romance saved for becoming completely unenjoyable. It may be your cup of tea, but it sure isn’t mine.