Published by HarperCollins on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, General, Romance, LGBT
eARC provided by Balzer & Bray
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.
Look at that cover. It’s gorgeous! Ooh, the synopsis looks good. Yay, diversity in YA! Wait a minute, what is this? Ummm, this book wasn’t what I thought it would be.
OF FIRE AND STARS starts off without world building. Immediately, our two protagonists meet. Denna is betrothed to Mare’s brother. Denna has magic. Magic isn’t allowed. Denna likes Mare. Mare doesn’t want anything to do with Denna. Someone dies. Then all of a sudden Mare wants to get to know Denna. They sing some songs and fall in love. But they don’t tell each other.
That’s basically this whole story.
The characters are really simple. Denna is good and grew up to be a princess. Mare is also a princess, but she is a bad girl and breaks all the rules. I didn’t see any character growth or redeeming qualities in these girls. They sound ridiculously alike as they switch POVs and think about each other. Also, side characters die and no one cares. They don’t have much of a role other than to die anyways.
The main issue in this story is that they can’t be together. Only, this world is far more female friendly then real history has been. A woman leads security in this kingdom, and Mare herself is a horse trainer. So not much oppression is not happening. Except for maybe to Denna, who is leading the life of an old style princess. Oh and also the king, Mare’s father, doesn’t listen to Mare. She has it all figured out if only someone would listen. Especially in the matter of this side-character’s death. No one really mourns this guy’s passing, but it is enough for security to think it is this rival kingdom and possible start a war. Only Mare and Denna have the wits to investigate who really did it. Really?
There is magic in this book, but it isn’t clearly used. Also, there is a whole religion this is not clearly explained. I felt like the author was using a lot of old words just to throw me into thinking this was well written. It was obviously well researched, at least the horse aspect was, but not well executed. I got super comfortable thinking this book would be accurate and interesting in some way. It just fell flat for me though.
I didn’t DNF this book only because I really wanted to see if these girls could become honest partners. Lesbians in YA are pretty rare. The whole book is built up for this romance to happen. Once they finally admit things to each someone really important to the kingdom dies, these girls want to abandon their future plans for each other, and have sex almost in the same scene. Whoa!
The only thing that saved this book for me was the slow burn romance. Looking at it now, I have more questions then answers about why they couldn’t just confess their feelings. there were other homosexual and bisexual characters in this story, but for some reason these girls wanted to hide what they were. In the end they were still hiding. I don’t think that sends the right message. I think I wasted a lot of time reading this book. I can’t get that time back. I don’t recommend this book. Unless maybe immature YA with some confusing romance angst is your thing.