Of Fire and Stars

Monday, January 22, 2018


Of Fire and Stars
Audrey Coulthurst, 2016

Premise: Princess Denna has always been preparing for her arranged marriage to the prince of the neighboring kingdom. She was reconciled to a boring life and relationship, until she met her fiancĂ©’s sister.

I intended to read a little of this book as a palate cleanser when I didn’t feel like anything serious, but I ended up finishing it quickly - it was difficult to put down.

It’s a fluffy and delightful fantasy romance-adventure. Denna and Mare (both shortened forms of long flowery names) are enjoyable protagonists, and their growing affection toward each other, first as friendship, then as more, is compelling.

On the other hand, I found characters' behavior and the politics of the fantasy kingdoms (and the failures of various politicians which justified the main characters’ actions) too predictable in most cases. It’s not bad, it’s just a little by the numbers. Modern numbers, that is. It runs against plenty of older fantasy tropes, but subverting tropes is itself a trope by this point.

That said, it was a solid use of these character types and plot twists. I enjoyed reading it, even though it felt mostly ephemeral.

The world seems to be one where bisexuality is the norm. This means that the girls’ love isn’t forbidden because they’re both female; it’s forbidden because Denna is engaged. So, points for a world that doesn’t reflect modern biases, but one side effect of this is that some of the conflict feels a little forced.

The magic was mostly well-described, although underdeveloped and underexplained.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love the idea of this book, and I really enjoyed reading most of it. However, it didn’t stay with me strongly.

3 Stars - A Good Book

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