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 believed that as long as I followed my training, nothing could go wrong.
But some things are stronger than years of lessons.
The draw of fire.
A longing for freedom.
Or a girl on a red horse.
First, let’s look at this cover. It’s gorgeous and I’m totally in love with the font! It’s what sucked me in and made me read the summary. “A princess with a forbidden magical gift is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom to marry a prince, but she has to choose between her duty and her heart when she falls in love with his roguish horse-training sister instead.” Obviously, after a summary like that I had to read this book. But you, my fellow bookworms, know how it is with the TBR piles and the such… so I never got around to it until the #DAReadAThon pushed me into reading it for the Stupefy prompt and the Beat the Backlist Challenge pushed me to kill off some of my ever-expanding TBR pile. I also recently joined the Diversely Booked Book Club, which happens to be reading Of Fire and Stars for January. Everyone I saw speaking about Of Fire and Stars on social media showered it with praises. Now, I feel like I should have read a few of the Goodreads reviews before selecting it because I’m pretty disappointed.
The characters are very two-dimensional. There is minimal development even on the two point-of-view characters, Mare and Denna. For secondary characters, the development is literally non-existent. Everyone is either good or bad with no grey area or depth to be found anywhere. I was especially disappointed in the lack of depth of both Thandi and Alisendi because they had such important roles to the main story. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about them aside from Thandi’s unwillingness to listen to reason and Alisendi’s hope that her sister will stuff herself into the role that has been forced upon her by her station.
The world is much like the characters within it: falling sadly flat with little description of it aside from the separation or unity of Affinities and the Six Gods, who are not elaborated upon beyond the affinities they represent. Hints are given as to the existence of a specific “order” in which the Gods should be displayed based on religious sect, but the actual order and representative colors are never given. Almost no elaboration is given to regional cultures, languages, or daily life. Vague hints are given to climate differences of different regions as well as regional preferences for a single specified god of the six available for three of the regions discussed.
The thing that bothered me the most is the plethora of questions that stuck with me at the end of the story, especially since it didn’t seem like the author was really trying for a cliff-hanger. How did the information get out of the castle and into the two rivaling factions ears with such speed and accuracy? How was the Directorate able to capture so many of the Recusants when they couldn’t even figure out where their new meeting location was? I also have a question as to why the author picked who she did as the villain, but to ask openly would spoil the entire book and I try so very hard not to post spoilers in my reviews. Needless to say the end, like much of the rest of the book, left me frustrated.
The only thing I really enjoyed about Of Fire and Stars was the romance between Mare and Denna, but even that left something to be desired. I will admit I spent most of the book anticipating the romance between the two of them, which carried me through much of the story by itself. Said anticipation (and my curiosity of where the story would take the two of them) allowed me to read the book in only a day. Out of that curiosity, I might read a sequel if it were published but I’d likely stick with the library instead of purchasing it. The idea behind this story had so much promise and the follow-through just wasn’t up to my expectations of it.
Overall, I rate Of Fire and Stars 2 out of 5 bookworms.
Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of Of Fire and Stars and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:
- Amazon US
- Amazon UK
- Books-A-Million (US)
- Barnes and Noble (US)
- Book Depository
- your local bookstore or local library
For more information about Audrey Coulthurst, visit her website.
If you’re interested in joining the Diversely Diverse Book Club (which you should because it’s awesome), you can find more info about it in Katsyxo’s introductory blog post.