Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.
I have seen Of Fire And Stars, by Audrey Coulthurst over the last several months, and really wanted to read it. I was in suspense until I could get it from my library, but it was worth the wait. I loved the story of a princess torn between her loyalty to duty and being true to herself. There was action, and a thrilling romance, that made this book a real page-turner.
What I Liked:Story:
The story essentially is one of doing what other's want you to do, versus being true to yourself. But in this book it plays out in unexpected ways that make the novel a fun treat.
Denna has been spent her entire life preparing to be the bride of a prince, in order to seal the alliance between her country, Havemont, and their neighbor, Mynaria. While she wants to serve her people, she is afraid that the people of Mynaria will find out about her power over fire (which the Mynarians find to be sacrilegious). And there's also the issue of there being zero chemistry between Denna and Prince Thandi. In fact, Denna seems to be more attracted to Thandi's sister, Princess Amaranthine.
Although it did not seem that being gay in this universe was a big deal, it was a problem for Denna because she was supposed to marry the crown prince and become Mynaria's queen.
The attraction between Denna and Mare (the princess) was a well-written and wonderful to behold. Denna and Mare feel an instant connection to each other, but I also enjoyed that the romance grew over time. They built up a friendship that became something more. There is so much at stake if they act on their feelings. They will betray Thandi and break the alliance between Havemont and Mynaria.
There are murders, conspiracies, and rebellion in this book, with religious zealots persecuting those with magical abilities. Who is trying to kill the royals? Is it people from a neighboring nation, magical people in Mynaria, or people trying to frame magical people? What will happen if Thandi finds out that Denna has an affinity with fire? There is a lot at stake if Denna is found out.
What I Was Mixed About:Betrayal:
Although I really do understand that Denna and Mare belong together, I can't help but feel that both of them are betraying Thandi. I can see that as Mare sees Thandi treating Denna with a dismissive air, Mare is more inclined to feel less remorse over winning Denna for herself. And I can also see how maddening it was for Denna to see how everyone (especially Thandi) placed so little value on the smart, vivacious Mare. Perhaps this made it easier for Denna and Mare to disregard Thandi and the alliance. Everyone is in an impossible situation.
If you read my reviews with any regularity, you will know that, yes, I am a bit of a prude, particularly when it comes to YA sex. Of course teens have sex, but I just don't need to know precisely who does what to whom (I was also opposed to the extremely graphic sex scene in Nevernight, by Jay Kristoff). Now, I must also say that the sex scene in this book is actually on the mild side, I just feel weird reading it (here's where I need to remember that I am not the intended audience for this book).
Overall, this book was an exciting mix of political intrigue, family relationships, and romance. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would love to read more about these characters in the future.
Release Date: November 22nd, 2016
Genre: YA LGBTQ Fantasy
Source: Public Library
Recommendation: An exciting mix of romance and political intrigue, set in a magical world.