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Of Fire and Stars
     

Of Fire and Stars

4.2 6
by Audrey Coulthurst
 

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An atmospheric and romantic debut fantasy perfect for fans of Ash and The Winner’s Curse.

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 kingdoms. But Denna has a secret.

Overview

An atmospheric and romantic debut fantasy perfect for fans of Ash and The Winner’s Curse.

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 kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, 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 work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/26/2016
At the start of Coulthurst’s spectacular debut, seven-year-old Princess Dennaleia of Havemont discovers that she has a magical “Affinity” for fire. Unfortunately, she is already betrothed to Prince Thandilimon of Mynaria, a kingdom where the practice of magic is considered heresy. Dennaleia’s mother swears that if she ignores her gift, it will fade, but the opposite proves true; when a 16-year-old Dennaleia arrives in Mynaria to start her new life, she nearly starts a conflagration. While hiding her ability, Dennaleia must also find a way to work with the prince’s prickly and rebellious older sister, Amaranthine, to dissuade Mynaria’s king from waging an unjustified war. But Dennaleia is faced with difficult choices about her future after something other than friendship unexpectedly develops between the two princesses. Dennaleia and Amaranthine’s narratives combine to create a powerful and exquisite love story that also provides incisive political commentary and cautions against zealotry, vengeance, and intolerance. The central mystery is intriguing, Coulthurst’s worldbuilding is excellent, and the book’s explosive conclusion both thrills and satisfies. Ages 13–up. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM. (Nov.)
Malinda Lo
“A deeply romantic, bold, and nuanced fantasy. You will be captivated by Denna and Mare and their star-crossed love for each other.”
Booklist
“Lovely…a worthy debut that succeeds as both an adventure and a romance.”
Mercedes Lackey
“I devoured Of Fire and Stars in two sittings; it’s a delightful debut, full of all the things I like best in a fantasy story, including not one but two wonderful heroines. I’m looking forward to seeing what Audrey does in the future!”
Corinne Duyvis
“Coulthursts’s debut is an absolute delight; I loved seeing these smart, fierce princesses fall in captivating, slow-burn love as they investigate political assassinations and unravel magical conspiracies.”
Amy Tintera
“Romantic, compelling, and bursting with fascinating characters, Of Fire and Stars is the fantasy novel we’ve all been waiting for.”
Caitlyn Paxson
“Reminiscent of the kinds of fantasy books I loved when I was a young teenager, tales of princess angst, horses, and the blossoming of reluctant love. This book is bold enough to create a world that moves beyond the prejudices we are still fighting in our real world.”
VOYA, December 2016 (Vol. 39, No. 5) - Donna Phillips
This debut novel tells the story of two princesses who defy stereotypes. Denna appears all fluff on the surface, ready to be married to a prince in another kingdom, but her magical gifts and keen thinking defy convention. Mare, like her name, is all about horses. While each princess seems destined to wed her own prince, as Mare teaches Denna the skills she needs to ride a horse, the two become devoted to each other. Reason and romance are at war in their kingdom, where Denna must hide her fire magic from a power structure that persecutes those who possess magic. As their love for each other gently develops, the girls find themselves accused in two murders, including that of the king. In a disturbingly familiar trend, those who challenge authority become the scapegoats, and the results of their persecution are bad for everyone. The point of view alternates between the two young women, and as they fall in love and become more like one another, readers may occasionally find themselves looking back to check the name of the current speaker: is it Denna or is it Mare? The themes are familiar—good vs. evil, logic vs. emotion, duty vs. desire—as is the political intrigue. The love story and the two main characters are engaging and refreshing. This is not a typical princess tale; this is a slow-burn love story about two unique, brave, and endearing young women. Reviewer: Donna Phillips; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
10/01/2016
Gr 8 Up—In this fantasy world of kings and magic, Princess Dennaleia has been groomed for her most important task: to marry Prince Thandilimon in order to solidify the relationship between their kingdoms. It is a future that she fully embraces, hindered only by her secret magical affinity for handling and creating fire, which she has kept hidden and cannot control. Upon her arrival in the kingdom of Mynaria, Denna is paired with Princess Amaranthine (Mare), who is to give her riding lessons in preparation for the wedding day. Mare's standing in her own kingdom is somewhat tenuous, as she has very little interest in her duties as a princess and prefers to spend her time riding and training horses. The two strike up a friendship amid a series of royal murders and terrorist acts supposedly orchestrated by renegade magic users and separatists. The real focus is on the attraction and love that soon develop between Denna and Mare. As they work to solve the murders and mysteries, the teens fall in love and begin to question their predestined roles. Same-sex love is neither forbidden nor controversial in Mynaria, so the novel's theme does not center on LGBTQ issues. It is simply a love story that just happens to be about two women, and the setting and plot are tangential. Some mild sexual scenes make this appropriate for older readers. VERDICT Those looking for a complex sci-fi/fantasy may be a little unsatisfied with the narrative. However, the gentle LGBTQ romance will win over many teens.—Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD
Kirkus Review
2016-07-26
Murder, mayhem, magic, romance—and horses, lots of horses! Sixteen-year-old Princess Dennaleia departs for the kingdom of Mynaria, home of her betrothed, the blond, blue-eyed Thandilimon. Neither royal realizes that Denna’s secret, stigmatized ability to control various elements will soon spiral out of control, as do her feelings when she meets Mare, her bold, gray-eyed future sister-in-law. The plot unfolds slowly as the green-eyed, white-skinned Denna, with her scholarly ways, is at first unsure what to make of Mare, most comfortable in the simple stable clothes that cause her to be mistaken for a boy. Only two characters seem to be of color (one described as dark-skinned and one who hides shyly behind her glossy black hair). Homophobia is a nonissue, as heterosexuality is refreshingly not assumed to be the default, yet sexism is very much present. Denna is stymied by rigid gender roles in her efforts to help investigate two royal murders blamed on reviled, magic-using rebels. Risky undercover excursions with Mare and cozy evenings à deux heighten the tension between the young women. The pace of the final chapters builds to a galloping crescendo as Denna must decide whether and how to be true both to her magical nature and her powerful feelings for Mare. The political machinations are somewhat repetitive and less compelling than the romance, but touches of humor lighten the journey. A romantic fantasy that will appeal to those who appreciate character-driven novels. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062433251
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/22/2016
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
14,432
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
840L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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Of Fire and Stars 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Sarah_UK1 11 days ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) “But some things are stronger than years of lessons. The draw of fire. The longing for freedom. Or a girl on a red horse.” This was a YA fantasy story about a princess with a fire affinity, who fell in love with her fiancée’s sister. Dennaleia was a strong character and it was easy to see why she was so scared of the truth about her abilities getting out when everyone seemed to be on the hunt for magic users. Mare was also a strong character and she had real grit and determination to do what she felt was right. I did feel sorry for the Prince though, as he was really screwed over by Denna and Mare’s relationship. The storyline in this started with Denna going to Mynaria in preparation for her wedding to the Prince, and developing a friendship with the Princess (Mare) instead. We then got lots of horse riding, as well as trouble brewing in the form of magic, with blame being laid on a neighbouring kingdom, whilst Denna and Mare were convinced that they were being framed. We also got a GLBT romance between Denna and Mare, although it took a long time for me to really get invested in the relationship. The ending to this was pretty good, and I would definitely be interested in reading a sequel. 7 out of 10
Anonymous 4 months ago
A cute and romantic friends-to-lovers story between two powerful women! Intrigue, magic, banter, steamy romance--everything I wanted and more!
KittyTheVicariousBookworm 4 months ago
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.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Oh, my heart! This book! My heart! I love this book so much. It's intriguing fantasy with magic and politics and ponies, all wrapped around a ridiculously satisfying slow-burn romance between two fantastic characters. The world feels realistic and lived-in, with just the right amount of world-building detail to make it easy to follow all the political strains and alliances and dangers. I especially love the magic--it feels small and subtle at first, a little thing that hardly seems worth all the fuss various political/religious groups are making over it, but then... it isn't so small and subtle anymore, for reasons which I shall not divulge because SPOILERS, and then all at once this world's magic is terrifying. AND I LOVE IT. But most of all what I adore about this book are the main characters, Denna and Mare, and their relationship. It's such a delight to watch these two young women who are very different people from very different lines, with very different sets of expectations and burdens on them, slowly come to like and appreciate each other, to see each other's strengths and flaws clearly, and to work together when all kinds of forces are trying to push them apart--and, of course, to fall in love, which happens so naturally and so perfectly I barely even noticed when I shifted from "aw you'll like each other eventually" to shouting JUST KISS ALREADY at the book every three pages. And sometimes I would mix it up and shout NO REALLY YOU LIVE IN A VERY DANGEROUS WORLD JUST KISS ALREADY. So, yes, it's the kind of book that had more shouting a lot because I was REALLY VERY CONCERNED for these characters and their dangerous, magical world, right up until the end when I wasn't shouting anymore but sighing a deep sigh of happy satisfaction, because literally every single thing about this book is fantastic. Including the horses. I love it.
hwheaties 8 months ago
It's not often that I read a book that's able to surprise me—in a good way—and this book did it. The characters are richly drawn and real and true, but true in a way that most books don't offer, which is true to their hearts. Dennaleia and Mare come together as Denna is supposed to marry Mare's brother, but they end up becoming friends, and then falling for each other. This is the way, usually, that those things happen, but they way they're never described in literature, usually, because people are afraid to be honest about the way those things happen. Told in a dual point-of-view style, this story of friends who become lovers covers a country and includes a bit of magic, which of course is always fun, except in this case, magic is not looked on as good. Throughout the book, Coulthurst develops tension not only through Dennaleia's discovery of her secret magical abilities, alongside the burgeoning tensions between Mynaria and other less friendly kingdoms, but also the developing relationship between Mare and Denna. The best part of the book is, the people around them find absolutely nothing wrong with Denna and Mare's relationship—other than, of course, the fact that Denna was supposed to marry Mare's brother. Relationships between men and men, women and women, are just as common as relationships between men and women. In this time when we are now so worried about the normalization of the hateful behaviors so present in the news, it would be so nice to see more novels and stories like this, in which love in all forms is normalized, so that people would not be afraid to share their love to the world. After all, we could use a bit more love to go around all the time—especially now. Coulthurst wrote a beautiful story about magic and love, which are truly the things that keep the world going round.
KathyMacMillan 8 months ago
What can I say about this book? It broke my heart, then put it back together, then broke it again. Denna and Mare are two strong, smart young woman, on different tracks in life but equally determined to do right by the people they care about. Denna has trained all her life to be a queen, and is determined to be a good one, but is frustrated when no one in the Mynarian court appreciates her politically astute intelligence – no one, that is, except her fiance’s sister and Denna’s riding instructor, Mare. Headstrong, independent Mare struggles to find her place – and she is more surprised than anyone to find that where she truly belongs is at Denna’s side. When these two princesses fall in love, it’s fire and stars and romance and political turmoil, all wrapped up in the dangers of Denna’s hidden magical gifts spiraling out of her control. I loved this story, and I can’t wait to read Coulthurst’s next book – I might even have forgiven her for the heartbreaking death of one of my favorite characters by the time it comes out.