Friday, February 24, 2017

[Book Review] Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

4.5 STARS 

Of Fire and Stars takes place in Mynaria, a fantasy world where Princess Dennaleia is sent to live with her betrothed, Prince Thandilimon, in order to prepare for their wedding. Their marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. Dennaleia has a secret she has been pushing deep inside her, and it's becoming harder and harder to hide it. Thandilimon's sister Amaranthine, who prefers to be called Mare, teaches Dennaleia how to ride a horse for the ceremony. What complicates Dennaleia's situation even more is when she starts to develop feelings for Mare.

This book was pretty amazing. I am all about princess/prince/castle stories. I think they're definitely one of my weaknesses, especially if they are written well and Of Fire and Stars was certainly written well. I really loved the characters in this story. One thing about me as a reader is that I tend to love books more if the character's are a big part of the story. When it comes to character driven stories vs. plot driven stories, character driven stories win each time for me. Denna was such a sweet character, and Mare was so resilient. I was worried at first when I started because both Denna and Mare irked me. Denna was too passive and Mare was too angry. But once I got more into the stories I realized that was the version of themselves they wanted to portray. Denna wanted to make herself seem as non-threatening as possible because of her fire affinity and Mare keeps her heart on lock down and walls up high because she feels ignored by the ones around her about and doesn't want to get hurt. I like that as the story went on I got to know the two characters so well. I think the decision for this story to be duel POV was such a good one. It worked especially for this book. Both characters had such distinct voices. I never got lost on what character's chapter I was currently reading.

"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."

The plot was definitely something that kept my interest. There's an assassination that happens and Mare and Denna bring it upon themselves to try to figure out who is behind the attack. Although it was interesting, I was more drawn to the way their friendship grew when they worked together. I though it was gradual and sweet the way they went from strangers, to friends, and then to developing feelings for each other. When a book has a romance, and that romance doesn't have insta-love I'm instantly a happy reader.

However, the reason why I couldn't give this book a full five stars is because of a few reasons. One, being that the book did get slow at certain parts in the story. It slowed down my reading a bit but it wasn't enough to stop me from wanting to read the book entirely. Second, the story was a bit predictable. However, because the characters were so well done I actually don't mind this as much. I would have preferred for the answer to who was behind the assassination to be a bit more surprising but instead I guessed it. But like I said, I loved the characters, writing, and friendships in this book that it is easy to look past this. I just felt like I had to acknowledge it. And finally, the ending felt a bit rushed. I had about twenty pages left when I realized a lot had to happen in a short amount of time, which is always troubling when the book is a stand alone novel (at least, that is what I have assumed according to Goodreads). Because the ending was rushed, some of the other characters didn't have great development by the end. Something happens in the story that is supposed to really make you feel, and I was definitely shocked, but I think I would have had a stronger reaction if the characters were fleshed out a bit more. I also would have enjoyed more scenes of Denna's fire affinity. A part of me wants a sequel to see her harness her powers but another part of me kind of likes the open possibilities the reader was left with.

Overall, I loved this book. The writing is fantastic, the characters are so great, the romance was well done, and I am so happy that I am seeing more LGBTQ+ representation in fantasy. And that the LGBTQ+ characters are the main characters instead of side characters. That makes all the difference sometimes for readers. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fantasy book, especially if you want more fantasy with LGBTQ+ representation. The writing alone should be sold on you reading this book, but the characters are really great as well.

Thanks for reading! 

Have you read a fantasy book that you just have to recommend?