Friday, November 18, 2016

Me on Of Fire and Stars

Title: Of Fire and Stars
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

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 before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), 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, each discovers there's more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna's intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare's independent streak. 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.

Of Fire and Stars is full of mystery and danger. Secrets and hidden plots and plans circle Denna and Mare, surround them, and they become just as wrapped up in them as they do with each other.

Denna is kind, a gentle and soft around the edges kind of princess. She's hoping she'll find a place of her own in this arranged marriage, in this new home of strangers. But she has some worries. Like the magic that flickers like flame at her fingers. Now that she's in a country where magic is forbidden? Where people with magic are seen as heretics that must be jailed or executed? She's worried for her life, for the future of this agreement between the two countries that depend on this marriage arrangement. Even as Denna fears her magic, she knows she needs to know more about it. How to control it. But there are plots about, dangerous plots that could reveal her secrets.

Amaranthine is bold and brash. With her brother as the heir to their father's throne, she's had the chance to run wild, to do what she wants. And what Mare wants is to work with horses, spend her days training them, riding them. Not wear foolish dresses and attend meaningless tea parties. She cares deeply for her family, her father and brother, but it's hard when they can't see past the ends of their noses. When all they can think of is how to keep others from taking from them, be it land or people or power.

This is a fantasy world that seems rather familiar. Kings and queens, secrets and intrigue. Gods that are worshiped and magic that's feared and banned. But there are bits and pieces that make it different. The customs of the kingdoms. That Dennaleia's sister became queen while Thandilimon, even though he is younger than Mare, will become king. Their treatment of those with magical abilities, avoidance versus outright fear and hatred. The brief mentions to an acceptance towards same-sex couples, something that can be rare to see in fantasy. Because of those differences, those customs, I was intrigued by this world.

This was familiar fantasy, yes, but it felt fresh and new. It felt tense and secretive. It's certainly been standard for the books I've come across that in fantasy settings the princess and the prince fall in love. This smashed that to dust, and I hope there are most fantasy novels like this. More intersection in fantasy. Gay and lesbian and bisexual characters, trans characters. Disabled characters. If you've been waiting for a fantasy novel where the princess falls for the prince's sister, then here is your book.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

1 comment:

  1. This sounds so good. It's about time that we start seeing more LGBTQ in more than just contemporary YA romance, or as side characters. I think that it's great that the princess falls for the prince's sister. Definitely going to be picking this one up!!
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages