Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst was the December 2016 OwlCrate book of the month (the theme was Epic!) The story promised to be full of adventure, fantasy, and general epic-ness. All of the perfect ingredients for any fantasy-lover, plus a twist. This book actually features a female protagonist who belongs to the LGBTQ+ community.
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Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Title: Of Fire and Stars
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Genre: YA: Fantasy
Published: November 22, 2016 by 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—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.
About: Audrey Coulthurst
Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. Her debut novel, OF FIRE AND STARS, was 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.
To be honest, I felt like I had already read this book before. Of Fire and Stars kind of encompasses all 3 YA fantasy trends I wish would disappear. I was in the mood for a fantasy adventure when I read this story, but the plot fell in line with so many other YA fantasy novels I’ve read recently that it felt almost redundant. That’s not necessarily any fault of Of Fire and Stars, but considering it was published in November of last year, this story just seemed too-played out. I guessed the “plot twists” fairly easily, and don’t have a particular interest in horses or riding them. In addition, there were a couple of errors/plot inconsistencies. Nothing major, but I did notice while reading and that’s always a disappointment to me.
The characters were fine, but unremarkable. No one character stood out to me as a favorite, and the romance wasn’t all that interesting for me either. I think it’s great that writers are featuring LGBTQ+ as main characters in their works, but aside from that the love story just wasn’t that interesting. Mare clearly took the place of the “typical male” in a heterosexual relationship. Audrey Coulthurst wrote her as constantly wearing pants, which Denna took notice of and thought was scandalous. Mare was also the more aggressive personality in the relationship, but was the one with a sense of duty who wouldn’t let her feelings get in the way. On the other hand, Denna was your typical female lead. She was small, pretty, docile, smart, and “surprisingly brave!”
There was nothing wrong with this story. It’s a great story for lovers of older/more-medieval-style fantasy novels in a castle setting with features of magic throughout the story. But I personally feel that the market is oversaturated with these types of stories, and would have liked to see something more from a newer publication and OwlCrate box choice.
I give Of Fire and Stars 3/5 stars
Let’s talk about it
Have you read Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst? What were your thoughts on the overall plot? What did you think about the relationship between Denna and Mare? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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