Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Summary:
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 nations. 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 Mynria’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.
Review:
I picked this book up from my local library the last time I went for a visit. I found this on the ‘Pride Month’ feature (which yes I know, was last month but I’m forever a step behind on everything.) I’m super glad I picked this book up. It was incredible and made me realize that I don’t read enough LBGTQ books. I think the thing I liked the most about this book was that it didn’t scream “HEY THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT GIRLS FALLING IN LOVE.” It told the story and just let the romance unfold and I really enjoyed that.
The first thing I thought while only a few pages into the story was that all of the characters have really weird but interesting names. I’m not mentioning this because it was bad; I mention it because it took me a minute to figure out how to say the names. I liked the unique names. It’s something that will make the story memorable to me. With the interesting and unique names, I thought it was a little odd that the descriptions in the story were so minimal. There was enough to set the scene but still left a fair amount to the imagination. With a fantasy story like this one, it was a little surprising to me. Most fantasy that I’ve read are teeming with descriptions and world building. This book had them but still left much for the reader to fill in with their own imaginations. I actually didn’t mind this at all. I tend to not read fantasy because of the amount of world building and setting descriptions, so this book was the perfect amount for me. There was also some odd language used that I didn’t like at first, but it grew on me throughout the story. Instead of hours, the characters referred to “sunlengths” and little things like this.
As for our characters, there are a ton that I could mention, but I’m just going to talk about our princesses. Mare and Denna are just about as opposite as you can get aside from their determination and drive. Mare does her best to be the farthest thing from a princess as she can. She spends her days dressed as a peasant drinking in bars trying to collect information. She is constantly underestimated by her father and her brother. Mare is desperate to find the freedom she craves so badly. Denna, on the other hand, has been raised her whole life to do the right thing, to be the proper princess, to do her duty to the kingdoms. Denna is a girl dedicated to her duty, the one she was assigned in childhood, to become a queen. She’s educated and clever, but lets herself get bossed around rather than standing up and saying, “Hey I have this great idea that you should all probably listen to.” So when she and Mare start to bond and Mare starts to listen to Denna’s thoughts and ideas, the not so proper feelings start. I enjoyed every page of watching these girls realize that the love they’d both been looking for their whole lives was right there in front of them. I’m a total sucker for the forbidden love trope. I love that this love was forbidden, but not because it’s love between two women because one of the women is already engaged to be married.
Overall I loved this book. Between the two female main characters that I just couldn’t get enough of as they figured out who they are and what exactly they want from life and one another. The forbidden love aspect had me hooked from the beginning. And the world the story takes place in was interesting enough to leave me pining for the next book that doesn’t come out until next year. I’m dying to know what’s going to happen in this world that frowns upon magic, which may just lead to the end of the world. This book had a great ending for our two princesses but definitely left me wanting more. This was a great young adult fantasy and I would recommend it to anyone.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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