“..some things are stronger than years of lessons.
The draw of fire. A longing for freedom.
Or a girl on a red horse.”
Let me just preface this with saying that this review is VERY MUCH overdue. Between recovering from Hurricane Harvey last year and a move across country, my blog suffered. I’m finally in my new home, and ready to tackle my favorite past time — pouring my heart out about books that changed my life. I read “Of Fire and Stars” after several people recommended it to me in my search of a good LGBT (Lesbian preferred) fantasy. Like most other lesbians, I really craved reading about two women falling in love in a setting that I loved (fantasy). I finally caved and picked up a copy of the book.
When I first heard about a f/f fantasy, I was skeptical. I knew very little about Audrey Coulthurst, being that this was her debut novel. Then I found out she was a fellow card carrying member my heart soared! Finally I may actually get a book that I could LOVE without flinching at the male ego centered lesbian pairings.
To sum it the book up:
Princess Dennaleia of Havemont is a magic welding princess from a land where Magic is not banned. She has spent her entire life under her sister and mother, hiding her magic and honing her skills to be the perfect bride to her already arranged marriage to Thandilimon, the crown prince of Mynaria. Because she has spent her entire life preparing, she fully embraces this fate with open arms.
Only when she arrives in her new home does she realize that she was not prepared for her duties. Mynaria’s foundation is based on their prized Warhorses, something that Princess Denna knows nothing about. Her betrothed’s sister,Amaranthine, though, is a skilled rider and is volunteered by her brother to teach Denna to ride. Both Denna and Mare feel like they are being punished, Denna longing to learn the ropes of the kingdom and Mare desperate to be as far away from the court and it’s people as she can be.
When a assassination rocks the very core of who they are, Denna and Mare are forced to come to terms with how they feel, who they really are and what they really want before they tear two kingdoms, and themselves, apart.
At first glance, the book is every thing the standard YA angst romance should be: beautiful setting, kingdom that prohibits magic out of fear, heroine who possesses said magic. She’s promised to one person, but loves another. Usually I’d insert my eye roll here, but the love interest, and the fact that we have not one but two wickedly smart female POVs, makes up for any tropes that may be in this book.
Really though, the story is beautifully told.My only regret is not reading this book sooner.
Each girl has their own POV, allowing you to lose yourself in the feelings of both falling in love and being pursued. The use of tension in the book at times was a bit overwhelming, but the point was not lost. Both girls were beautiful creatures, fighting against the gold lined prisons that they were born into.
The initial idea of their love being forbidden because it was an F/F love is quickly dispelled with talks of other same sex couples, making this kind of love a normal nonoccurence. This is a stand out point, for me, at least, because we already fight for acceptance. To read about a world where this is not something that is a big deal in general is comforting and almost akin to a homecoming. The magic system and the interconnection it has with the 6 gods is a fantastic world building addition that left me thinking about their world long after I had closed the book. Mare and Denna are your typical princesses, yet they are so, so much more. This story is one for the books, an epic tale of love that transcends all and will leave you wanting more of their story -scrambling to look for pages you are SURE have fallen out.
“…and in those moments I knew what Denna meant when she told me only riding had ever made her feel so alive.”
Overall, I give her debut a solid 4.5 stars. I would loved to have seen a little more of Mare and Denna, but with the LONG AWAITED (patiently, I promise Audrey) sequel coming out in March of 2019 -yes, this girl has already pre ordered, so if you haven’t yet, do it now!- I am sure that we will definitely see more of our favorite bad ass princesses!!
If you’d like to check out any of Audrey Coulthurst’s work check out her website audreycoulthurst.com and her other current release: Ink Mistress (review to come!)
(bottom art by Nate Hallinan)