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Of Fire and Stars

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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—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the 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 become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. 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.

389 pages, Hardcover

First published November 22, 2016

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About the author

Audrey Coulthurst

5 books1,327 followers
Audrey Coulthurst is the author of critically acclaimed novels for young adults, such as the Of Fire and Stars series and Starworld (co-authored with Paula Garner). After studying music history and composition as an undergraduate and earning a Master’s degree in Book Publishing, she somehow ended up leading a double life working in finance by day and writing novels by night. Audrey was a Lambda Literary Fellow in 2013 and a Publishers Weekly Flying Start in 2016. Her debut novel Of Fire and Stars was named to the Kids’ Indie Next List, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and was listed among Vulture’s 38 Best Queer YA Novels in 2018. Audrey grew up riding horses in the Willamette Valley, made most of her best friends while living in Austin, spent five beautiful years enjoying ocean views in Santa Monica, and currently lives in Oregon with her family.

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5 stars
5,654 (28%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,233 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,944 reviews292k followers
November 21, 2016
Let's start with the positive: there's an LGBT romance. And also there's... er, nope, sorry, that's all I got for you.

Of Fire and Stars is a mind-numbingly generic YA fantasy novel, and the attempts to spice it up with a lesbian romance just don't work. Take that aspect out and you are left with nonexistent world-building, poorly-developed characters, immature writing and just extreme boredom. If you've read a few fantasy novels, this one adds absolutely nothing but paper to the pile.

In this book, Denna is betrothed to Prince Thandi of Mynaria. She arrives in Mynaria, determined to marry the prince and guard her secret fire magic from this kingdom that - for no apparent reason - despises magic, but she soon finds herself falling for the sister of her future husband. That would be Mare, lover of horses (yes, I'm serious).

There is absolutely no set-up or world-building - we are thrown completely into this situation with no knowledge of the land or world we are in, no understanding of the political and cultural landscape, no understanding of the magic system or why the Mynarians hate magic. At times, the book felt very juvenile, written for an audience that presumably doesn't care about world details or character development. The lack of any depth throughout simply made it uninteresting.

And very little actually happens. If you are put off by YA fantasies that spend too long talking about pretty dresses and palaces, then this one should put you to sleep. Most of Denna and Mare's story features them horse riding, learning about the horses, and not really doing anything. When we're not focusing on their snoozeworthy antics, we have to listen to councils (i.e. the adults) being unbelievably obtuse.

Both the characters and the relationships were one-dimensional. Denna is, without question, the "good girl" and Mare is the fiery and quick-tempered one. And on that latter note, Mare is so so annoying. Once again I felt like I was in a very juvenile story when Mare throws her shoes at doors and makes rude faces behind people's backs. She's eighteen, by the way, not twelve.
"Fine," the liegeman said. "See that you do." He turned on his heel and walked away.
I made a rude face at the liegeman's retreating backside.

The whole book is silly and ill-conceived. Without getting into spoilers, there were so many ludicrous moments when the adults of the novel behaved like clueless sheep, when supposedly trained guards stood around twiddling their thumbs while shit went down, and nothing was happening so the author killed off another side character who we obviously didn't give a damn about because they weren't given a personality.

The romance is undoubtedly the best part. It's a slow-building climb from disdain to friendship to love. But even that is marred by some poor plot choices on the author's part. This is a world that seems to readily accept homosexual and bisexual relationships. It seems pretty commonplace, even. And yet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Denna and Mare spend too long completely adamant that they are definitely, absolutely just friends. And then that they definitely, absolutely cannot be together. Perhaps there was a good reason for this, but it was not explained well - I felt like their refusal to be together was contrived plot angst, rather than arising from a legitimate concern.

I'm sorry to say it, as this was one of my most anticipated reads of this year, but Of Fire and Stars is neither thought-provoking nor entertaining.

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Profile Image for Meg.
209 reviews348 followers
Want to read
July 27, 2015
"when she falls in love with his rogueish horse-training sister instead" sign me the fuck up
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
February 6, 2017
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO SO MUCH. I am 100% filming a video review because WOW more people need to read this story.

If you're looking for a fantasy novel with an LGBT+ relationship, I would highly recommend this one! I can't personally speak for the representation, but to my interpretation, this world's view of sexuality is extremely balanced. I feel the best way I can describe it is by this: The problem is NEVER that these two girls have fallen in love with each other and that's bad because they are of the same gender. The problem is that two girls have fallen in love while one is betrothed to the other's brother. In an interview I read with the author, she expressed that she created a world where homophobia does not exist (hello this is what fantasy was created for) so I can promise you, the dismissal of sexuality will not be found within the pages of this book. What I got out of it was in this world, "Love is Love" and that was really refreshing to see, especially in fantasy.

Additionally, the sexuality of my new favorite princess couple are never disclosed in the book. I think it's wonderful that we have a book that does not enforce any sort of pressure to define yourself using labels and allows way for interpretation by the reader. Also, it's an own voices LGBT+ novel (*shoots fist into air*).

This is sincerely one of the best romances I have read in a really long time. Just the combined presence of Denna & Mare in the same room together had my heart fluttering. Their chemistry is absolutely electric and you can really tell that there is a deep, true love between the two. I would probably give up my first born child or something if it meant I got to read more of their adventures together.

For a standalone fantasy novel, I feel the magic system was really well developed! I would have loved to see it expanded more through an extended series (obviously you can tell I'm bitter I don't have more books to look forward to) but regardless, it was unique and well explained!

The only negative thing I really felt about this book is the political relationships weren't delved into as much. This is something I almost ALWAYS have an issue with in high fantasy novels with expansive histories, so it may just be me! I would have liked some more development on that end, but I don't feel it significantly impacted the story in any way.

In conclusion; This book was amazing. I am obsessed. It's at the top of my recommendations list. I'd do anything for a sequel. #NewFavoriteStatus. Please pick this one up. Thank you for your time.
November 26, 2016
The book's blurb - a promise of a lesbian romance, sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, the romance was the only halfway decent thing about this nook.

The complaints about this book are pretty similar across the board, from the other reviews I've read, and I agree wholeheartedly.

- There was no world building. We are immediately plunged into kingdoms and political situations without knowing what the hell we're getting into. Why is she betrothed to marry someone? Is there magic in this world? Why is magic reviled? Is there a political situation that requires such a marriage? So on and so forth. There is very little world-building at all, which is shameful, considering the premise of this world could have been a fantastic one, had it been properly written. This lack of world building and, specifically for the lesbian romance of this book, made it unbelievable.

- The characters were terrible. Black and white. Good and bad. Obedient and rebellious. There was no depth to either Denna or Mare. Denna is undoubtedly the good character. She is quiet, sweet. Mare is the "bad" one. She is a princess, yet is TOTALLY AGAINST PRINCESSY THINGS. She's tomboyish, disobedient. An embarrassment to her royal brother. A picture book could provide more depth of characters than this one.

- The romance. Admittedly, this was ok. But it's like - what made the book seem like a forbidden romance really isn't such. It's just pure bullheaded stupidity on both princess' parts. Homosexuality is accepted in this book, so why are they denying each other so much and going through so much bullshit before they can accept that they've fallen in love. But then again, lol, that's the difficulty for every single book relationship ever.

Overall, boring book, poorly written world, stupid characters.
758 reviews2,350 followers
May 10, 2017
DNF @ 31%





It's pretty sad because this was such a cool concept. An f/f fantasy stand alone. But the plot was so fucking slow and excruciatingly boring srsly.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
909 reviews13.8k followers
April 8, 2018
I really want to get more into f/f books, but nearly all of them are contemporary, which I'm really bored with atm. I picked this up with mahana (hi binch) and read it somewhat on audiobook and somewhat physically, and I really enjoyed it! As a horse owner I was really happy that this centered around a lot of discussion about riding horses and training horses, so it had my attention there. I also loved the character dynamics, the breaking of gender roles, and the general rebellion of the characters and world against norms of fantasy was refreshing.

The world itself, however, I thought was a bit dry. It bore no significant differences than any other run of the mill fantasy world out there with a pretty generic elemental magic system. I'm kind of tired of the "I have magic and have to hide it!" trope, so hopefully in book two, Denna will embrace her magic and master it.

But Denna and Mare's relationship was so slow burning and lovely, and I loved all the side characters in this, so they kept it afloat. This definitely isn't a stand-out fantasy world, but I fell in love with the characters and the way they were written, and I would definitely recommend this to people looking for f/f romance in non-contemporary settings.
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,309 followers
May 19, 2016
*4.5/5 stars

I will have many more thoughts on this book when I do my video review, but for now I just want to say that my heart feels like it is glowing. I put the book down 10 minutes ago and I haven't been able to stop feeling so happy about the way this story developed and the way that Mare and Denna's relationship evolved.

If you are a huge fan of the dislike-to-love relationship trope, I would highly recommend this book. If you love horses, you would love this book. If you love QUEER FANTASY (and #ownvoices at that) you will LOVE THIS BOOK. I can't get over how much I adored so many aspects of it. A bit slow to start, but the second half knocked me off my feet and I seriously can't wait to read more by Audrey Coulthurst.

*I received an ARC of this book through a giveaway, all thoughts are my own*
Profile Image for Ben Alderson.
Author 23 books13.2k followers
December 19, 2016
Really enjoyed this book. I LOVED the romance between the two princesses! I literally DIED for the descriptions!

Also i loved the magic in this fantasy novel, so unique and easy to understand. WONDERFUL

WAY to much 'horse' talk for me personally, but thats my only issue with the story!

Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,239 followers
December 1, 2016
Of Fire and Stars had the potential to be good as a YA fantasy with a lesbian romance, but it all fell pretty flat. Unfortunately, the execution didn’t hold up. There’s a huge lack of world-building and character development. And the biggest problem for me was how a lot of it just didn’t make sense. The plot doesn’t add up. Plus, the adult characters are all very stupid for some odd reason.

Dennaleia, known as Denna, has been promised to the prince of Mynaria where magic is forbidden. But Denna has a secret she must keep or risk being killed. She has an affinity for fire and it seems to be harder to control since arriving in Mynaria. This should be problem enough until she forms a friendship with the prince’s sister Mare that soon grows into more.

There are political situations among the kingdoms we’re thrown into where they all differ on their views of magic causing tension. There are groups unhappy about the alliance formed by Denna’s marriage. The issue here is there is no reason given for why Mynaria hates magic. So there isn’t any ground for these plot lines to stand on. There are times when the book feels really juvenile with very little logic to it. Scenes felt forced. The characters lacked depth. Denna and Mare’s relationship was confusing how it went from complete dislike, to friendship, to oh we’re definitely only friends. Other than the prince, I just don’t understand why in a world where homosexuality is openly accepted you would try to pass something off as friendship for so long.

Alas, the execution could have been better.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.7k followers
May 11, 2017

Ah, it’s good to be back. I must like writing reviews nearly as much as I love to read. I’d never realized that.


Anyway, let’s get into this book. I’m disappointed, yes, but not slump-worthily-so. I received this book in an Owlcrate, and while it sounded liiiiiit and looks even prettier, it hadn’t really been on my radar beforehand. So, no, I didn’t like this. But who has the time to be surprised by me not liking books?

The premise of this guy is sick. At its most basic, this is YA fantasy with a girl-girl love story. Which is, like, amazing. Obviously. So yes, I wanted to like this. I’m giving it a little extra in its rating because it’s so important in that way. But the execution...well, I’ll explain.

The fantasy of this is just...poorly done. It’s that weird fantasy trope where everyone has an INSANE name. Here are the ones introduced in the first ten pages alone: Dennaleia, Alisendi, Thandilimon, Casmiel, Amarinthine, Aturnicus, Mirianna. Like, what? Oh, and Amarinthine likes horses, so her nickname is, drumroll please...Mare. So, like, the names are that bonkers, but the food is exactly the same as ours. Down to tomatoes and chocolate cream pie and berries with whipped cream. The only thing that’s really changed is the time-telling? They use “sunlength” and “moon,” WHICH IS JUST CONFUSING. I think a sunlength is an hour? And a moon might be two weeks, or a month? Give it up, you’re low fantasy. JUST ADMIT IT!

Now for the most important part: the characters. IMO, everyone is flat as hell. Oh, sorry, I should say the Six hells. (I truly crack myself up.) Anyway, instead of the audience being shown the two main girls’ traits, we’re just told what Dennaleia and Amarinthine are like. (I refuse to call them Denna and Mare.) It’s just, Here Is Dennaleia. She Is Bookish. And Here Is Amarinthine. She Is Brave. Oh my God it’s like Divergent factions. Or Hogwarts houses. Hahahaha. Second time I’ve cracked myself up in this review, so I’m calling this a win already. Anyway (have I said that enough yet?), we’re told they’re like this but it almost never seems that way.

These characters also never feel bad about ANYTHING. They’re total sociopaths. When Thandilimon finds out his betrothed is cheating on him with his sister (too predictable to be a spoiler, yes?), he literally starts crying and asks if there’s anything wrong with him. It’s so sad. And Dennaleia is just like, OMG, whatever.

Maybe the most annoying part was how PREDICTABLE this book was. On page 50 (out of about 400), I tried predicting the storyline, which I never do. I got it exactly right. My note says: And all my pals out there who’ve read this, y’all know I got it pretty much spot on. Also, why wouldn’t Like, maybe I’m just being pretentious as usual, but doesn’t that make more sense?

Now onto the magic. To ALL my YA authors out there writing magical fantasy: STOP MAKING YOUR MAGIC SO ILL-DEFINED. Even with a massive info-dump given to us through Dennaleia reading a book about magic, I have no idea what each power does. I know there are a bunch of types you can have, which are literally the Elements from the Vampire Academy series, plus something called Shadow that is never explained.

And now, as always, onto (audience chanting along with me) GENERAL! STUPIDITY! Yes, these are the dumb mistakes or overall irritating portions of the text that could be eradicated with a good scrub by an editor. I actually only have two for this, since I’ve mentioned a bunch earlier. One: since when does air put out fires? We all know that if a fire is bigger than, like, a candle, a burst of air isn’t going to do sh*t, right? Doesn’t it make it worse? And the second is a bit of a spoiler, so I’ll tuck it in here: Bet that won’t hold any significance later on!

Bottom line: despite all of that, plus how boring and slow this was, the topic and representation are really important. So I’m giving it an extra half star.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,089 reviews6,597 followers
April 26, 2019
Profile Image for Samantha.
409 reviews16.7k followers
November 6, 2019
2.5 stars

I didn’t love or hate this book. This book is more of a fantasy romance, with little focus on the fantasy or the plot. The plot is mostly in service to the romance. I didn’t mind that until the end, when the plot, villain, and motivations all felt rushed and characters acted out of character for a few chapters before returning to normal. That was a bit messy for my taste. I don’t feel the need to continue with this series and this was a perfectly good standalone for me.

If you’re looking for a f/f romance with some fantasy sprinkled in (oh and were a horse girl/boy/non-binary pal growing up) than this is for you.
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
853 reviews3,765 followers
April 7, 2017
I mostly enjoyed this book. I thought the romance would be the only place where this book shone, but not only was the romance very swoony, we also had a pretty intriguing mystery, and the fantasy element surpassed my expectations.

I had no trouble understanding the world building, but I do think it could have been more developed. My biggest gripe with it is that it strongly felt like the first installment in a series instead of a standalone. Although this story wraps up, it felt like we were given just a teaser for the world and politics. We're given a small taste of the magic system with a vague promise that the magical character will train to develop their power in the future (that's the story I want to see!), and the final climax felt a tad weak. There was an awesome character moment in it, but the looming threat felt like it should have been the midpoint of the story with worse things happening from there to really up the stakes and risks. We also stayed in one location and I would have liked to see more of this world considering the book included a map and talked about the other kingdoms a lot.

I may have gotten this completely wrong because I see through a straight lens, but I felt like this world wasn't heteronormative. Denna and Mare's love is treated as taboo only because of the betrothal. There were several instances in the book where characters mentioned having same sex partners and no one batted an eye. I also thought the prejudice against magic users in this world seemed to be an allegory for LGBTQIA+ rights, which was an interesting exploration.

I really loved that Denna is a nerdy princess. She's a total Hermione- loves studying and knows a ton of random facts. It was refreshing to read about a princess who was more concerned with strategy and wanted to be a good queen instead of trying to escape court life and start a rebellion. Mare's tendency to call everyone and everything stupid all the time was kind of condescending and grating, but I enjoyed how her personality contrasted Denna's. I really liked both characters, but will admit that when they weren't interacting with other characters, their POVs could feel indistinct.

The romance was a slow burn, which I really appreciated. I liked that Prince Thandi was, for the most part, not a complete jerk. This allowed Denna's relationship with Mare to develop in a genuine manner instead of her just being thrust toward the better option. I also liked that Denna and Thandi's relationship was never romantic. This wasn't an angsty love triangle, but rather a device built to show being torn between who society wants you to love vs who your heart loves.

Overall, this book could have been better developed, but it made me want more of these characters and this world in a good way! I definitely look forward to Audrey Colthurst's next book.
Profile Image for Faith Simon.
192 reviews163 followers
June 11, 2019
From every review that I've read/watched for this book from many a booktuber, they made it sound like such a soft and magical story about two princesses. That is NOT what I got reading this. I got LOTS of death. No really, so much death.
Don't get me wrong, I sure did get two gay princesses and magic, however, I didn't expect this book to be filled to the brim with so much prejudice. Hearing reviewers say this universe is void of homophobia, naturally, I thought that everything would be hunky-dory in terms of humans being terrible to each other. But no, the prejudice is rampant in this book, just not for the reason you think.
And my only thought about how everyone markets this book as having no homophobia exist within the story, there isn't any homophobic acts towards people in same-sex relationships, however, I felt that a lot of concepts that are present in our world were in this novel as well. For example, Denna immediately assumes that her friends' obviously gay yearning for a girl back home is only that of friendship. I'm sorry, but if homophobia isn't a thing and gay relationships are so normalized, why is heterosexual relationships still the default throughout this book? Heterosexuality is more normalized in this book than homosexuality, which shouldn't have been the case if same-sex couples are so normalized. While I guess you could say this book has no homophobia, it isn't free of its heterocentricity, just like any form of media, which would not be the case if homophobia didn't exist. So, you decide how you feel about that claim.
Besides all of that, the slow burn in this book claims my entire heart and soul. Ugh, it's so good. I love reading a relationship between two people grow from annoyances to the other to being in love. In my opinion, coaxing that dynamic out throughout the story and building it up so well is nothing short of talent.
Speaking of good writing, I was literally so stressed throughout my entire time reading this. The story is building up to something you know is going to inevitably happen, however, I didn't feel like knowing made the stress of the situation any less exciting.
I loved that the book ended with basically the same sentence that it had started with. It made my heart absolutely twirl, and it added to the slow-burn dynamic.
Basically, this book was not at all like I expected it to be based from so many reviews I'd read, but I ended up enjoying the heck out of it anyway, which I'm so grateful for.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,691 reviews1,268 followers
February 17, 2017
(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
Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,279 followers
February 7, 2017
Even thought it took a while for the book to really get good for me, I still loved it!

I really enjoyed that there was definitely no instalove involved, Denna and Mare's relationship was slow moving and slow to start and I really loved that, especially because it was technically against the rules for Denna to be with anyone but her betrothed at this point.

The politics interspersed throughout the book really gave it a good overall balance between romance, action, and info-dumps, so I was never too overwhelmed or bored with one over another!

Overall I really enjoyed this read and would definitely recommend. Great start to my diversity bingo this year!
Profile Image for enqi ༄ؘ 。˚ ⋆♡.
321 reviews586 followers
June 24, 2019
When I was seven winters of age, my mother caught me in the hearth stacking red-hot coals with my bare hands.

recently i've begun to read more f/f romance in hopes of finding myself represented in those books. when i saw the synopsis for this story, where two princesses defy all odds and fall in love against a backdrop of impending war, i knew i had to pick it up. while of fire and stars definitely managed to interest me, i didn't expect to like it as much as i did, having read some controversial reviews about it.

denna's character arc was something i really liked. the way she came into her gifts and stopped trying to suppress them was fascinating. some have commented that she was obviously a goody-two-shoes but by the end she definitely wasn't. her character's development was both believable and enjoyable, i had very neutral feelings towards her at the start because she felt very awkwardly written but i liked her a lot more at the end.

thandi was about as interesting as white bread, and most other characters weren't given enough air time, but mare? fierce, brave, rebellious, stubborn. she was probably my favorite character. her need for freedom is something that resonated very deeply with me, and i think part of the reason why i liked her so much was because i saw a lot of myself in her. her hatred for showing vulnerability, her inner strength, her devil-may-care attitude -- it was like i was seeing myself in those pages.

as for the plot, and the world-building, i thought it was all pretty average. not terrible, but nothing amazing either. there was a lot of telling instead of showing -- this made sentences run on longer than they should and some paragraphs just weren't necessary. additionally, it wasn't very well-developed, and there was no reason given for the prejudice against magic. the story took place in one country the whole time, although neighboring countries were frequently spoken of or mentioned, and it was very wasted because there was no exploration of the other lands. in my opinion, this was an amazing fantasy idea but with rather poor execution. there was a lot of potential to create something more complex and memorable, which just wasn't there.

the representation was very well done. i loved that the world wasn't heteronormative, and throughout the book many characters mentioned same-sex relationships and no one batted an eye. i read the author's note later and it turns out the author herself is married to another woman, which would explain the believability surrounding the romance between denna and mare, and i appreciated that she didn't just focus on the f/f relationship between the MCs and put everyone else in a straight relationship as is the case in some other books.

overall, the story was fairly intriguing, and i can admit i was invested in denna and mare's romance. i liked the book enough that i will read the sequel when i find the time/money to. coupled with the lesbian romance (which is something that still sorely requires more normalcy in YA books), it solidly deserves its four stars.
Profile Image for Danika at The Lesbrary.
511 reviews1,262 followers
September 30, 2016
This was everything I wanted from it and more. A delight to read. I want to give it as gifts and peddle it to strangers. It warms my heart that this book is in the world for queer teen girls. Do you like Frozen but wish it was more gay? Of Fire and Stars. Perfect if you like fantasy or court politics or trying to find out who the betrayer is or magic or starcrossed lovers or grudging-friendship-turns-into-love or... Honestly, I just fell head over heels for this. All the best part of Tamora Pierce with twice the queer content. This reminds me of everything I wanted from Disney movies, but with added depth and maturity. (Maturity as in there is brief sexual content and swearing.) I can't wait to have a finished physical copy. I haven't swooned this hard for a book in years.
Profile Image for Jodi Meadows.
Author 23 books4,621 followers
June 18, 2016
What a lovely book! I'm not sure if this is a standalone or part of a larger story, but I think it works either way. This novel definitely does stand on its own (though I wouldn't say no to a companion!).

The writing is quite nice, the characters complex, and the worldbuilding very interesting!
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews956 followers
June 28, 2016
Honestly, more like Of Fire and Horses because the stars thing was just bad (and there are a lot of horses in this book).

Despite seemingly the only sensible adult with a fully-functioning brain being killed way off in the beginning, I was invested in the book mainly because there was a subtlety to it all. However, as soon as the half mark hit, the book just escalated its pace and ended up falling flat.

The political intrigue is laughable at best, the secondary characters get sidelined in favor of horses (and more horses), the plot opts for shock and awe and gets totally predictable in the process, the prince has the most ridiculous sounding name ever and is there to just do princely things. Lastly, I thought I actually liked the gendered world-building until I realized how pretty much all the royal women are not taken seriously at all and just no.

I can go on, but I guess I should save the rest for the actual review.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,693 reviews856 followers
July 24, 2019
ReRead #1 (2019): ★★★★★

Buddy reading with my fave Brooklyn

Original Read (2016): ★★★½☆

Of Fire and Stars has been getting a lot of negative reviews lately despite being one of the year’s most highly anticipated debuts. Every single one of my friends' reviews contains the word ‘disappointing’ and I can see why. This book promised to be a dark and enthralling fantasy but it is more of a light-hearted romantic fantasy… which was probably why I adored it so much more than everyone else. These sorts of fantasy are my jam at this time of year! I’m in no mood for a long, drawn-out political fantasy with the amount of intense studying I am currently in the middle of. I could not have asked for a more apt story.

One of my favourite things about this book was the writing style. For a debut, I have to say that I am impressed! The way that the two perspectives - our protagonists, Mare and Dennaleia - were written was incredible. There was a slight overlap, which is something that would normally irritate me, but the author used these moments to show how a single event can be interpreted differently, depending on the observer. There was a moment in an action sequence where Mare thought that Dennaleia was cowering in the corner, acting cowardly and only trying to save herself, but Dennaleia was actually shielding her sister while recovering from using magic. It may seem like a minor thing but I loved how these moments showed the differences in personality of our two protagonists.

In multi-perspective stories, I normally tend to favour a particular protagonist but I could not choose who I admired more: fierce and unflinching Mare who stood for what she believed and never let herself get bossed around or Dennaleia who used her intelligence to make her kingdom a better place for all. I really loved seeing these characters develop throughout the story as they were confronted with numerous challenges. Their relationship was also very well-written. It had just the right amount of slow-burning tension. It developed from this sort of mutual indifference to friendship to… more. I thought that this made their relationship so much more believable, especially when instalove is such an easy trope to fall back on. It was also good that they were conscious of Dennaleia’s betrothal. I wholeheartedly shipped them!

I know that the plot was a major annoyance to a lot of readers but I think your enjoyment of it will depend on what you want to get out of this story. Personally, I went into this story wanting something entertaining and I think this story definitely achieves that. The mystery and romance were balanced out well. However, if you wanted extensive world-building and layers of political intrigue, you will be disappointed. Would I have liked for the world and magical system to be fleshed out a tiny bit more? Definitely, but, at the same time, I liked that the world was simple enough to understand with relative ease. I was never confused about any of it - which is always nice - and I think it is also believable that our protagonists would have been a little naive to the outside world, seeing as they were technically not even allowed to leave the palace grounds. While the ending was also satisfying, I do hope that we are given a sequel (which will allow us to explore the world more too)!

With that being said, there were two things which did slightly irritate me. The first being the secondary character’s lack of development. We focused on our two protagonists to the extreme and while I enjoyed them both as characters, I do think spending time on fleshing out the major secondary characters would really have helped to bring the story to life. At the very least, I think we needed more from Thandi and Nils' characters. They were both present for a lot of the story but I never thought was got to know them on the level we should.

The other thing which annoyed me was how this fantasy world continued to perpetuate stereotypical gender roles but completely accepted m/m and f/f relationships. I love that an author finally wrote about a fantastical f/f romance but at the same time, I was confused by the fact that all of this world’s arranged marriages were m/f. They also made Dennaleia participate in stereotypically feminine activities, like poetry reading and embroidery, despite her dislike for it. I thought this was a really odd balance. Surely, the idea of an arranged marriage is to unite countries so the fact that Dennaleia was forced to marry Thandi, instead of Mare, befuddled me. Was it simply because she could not produce an heir that way? If so, why wouldn’t they just have married Thandi off to someone else and kept the Mare/Dennaleia relationship seeing as it still bonded their two countries? I don’t know if I’m oversimplifying the situation or something but I did find it a little confusing.


I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Of Fire and Stars and thought that it was quite a strong debut. Coulthurst’s writing style was incredible and she really succeeded in bringing Mare and Dennaleia to life. Their relationship was so well done and the plot as a whole was incredibly entertaining. Apart from some minor complaints about the secondary characters, I was definitely impressed with this book and will certainly be anticipating Coulthurst’s next release.

◯ Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for lov2laf.
714 reviews1,044 followers
May 23, 2018
"Of Fire and Stars" is a really excellent YA fantasy f/f read. Adult book writers could take some lessons from the slow burn and chemistry that Coulthurst created between her two leading ladies and is one of the reasons I still read YA. YA authors just often do it better.

As fantasy stories go, it's a combination of an alternate Earth, Medieval-like royalty and certain people having an affinity with one of the six gods that includes Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Those with the affinity can use the element their born with for good or bad and, because of this, they are feared by the general public especially when someone with the ability starts killing off royalty.

The plot does take awhile to unravel and the characters do build their relationship over numerous encounters so expect a somewhat slow but steady pace.

Denna and Mare are both distinct, likable, and interesting three dimensional characters. Mare is an ice-queen, black sheep member of the royal family who wants her freedom above all else while Denna is proper, does what is expected of her, and puts her kingdom and duty first. They are 17/18 but their decisions and actions are those of intelligent, mature women doing the best they can with intense outside pressure and lousy circumstances.

The romance between them was really well done as was the mystery and the world building. Action was amped and the story held good suspense on a number of levels.

This book is currently available in the Kindle Unlimited program but I listened to its audiobook on Scribd. The story is told in their alternating points of view of Denna and Mare and the two actresses who played each role did a fantastic job. The story was engaging enough but their delivery elevated the text.

As a read, I'd say this is 4.5. But, because the narration was so good, I give it a 5.

Profile Image for Tova.
630 reviews
February 28, 2017
Realistically: 3.5/5 stars
Okay. I caved and read this. I have a very special Hamilton-themed review coming.
There’s nothing like a good YA Fantasy in the bookstore Two Princesses falling in love, someone looking pretty There’s horse poo in the air, you can smell it
And Dennaleia’s by himself. I’ll let her tell it

I hadn’t slept in a week
I was weak, I was awake
You never seen a foreign princess
More in need of a break
Longing for Havenmort
Missing my sister
That’s when Princess Amaranthine walked into my life, she said:


It's fine, You don't have to apologize. Just don't call me Amaranthine.
I know you are a princessof a feigh
I’m so sorry to bother you at my home
But I don’t know where to go, and I came here all alone…

She said:

My father doin’ me wrong

selling me, cheatin’ me, mistreatin’ me...
Suddenly he’s up and gone
I don’t have the means to go on

So I offered her horse lessons, I offered to walk her around town, she said

You’re too kind, Your Majesty

I gave her a bunch of papers that I had socked away
She got one foot away, she said:

Are you okay sir?

Then I said, “well, I should head back home but I am dead,


She turned red, she led me to her bed, and laid me down beside her.
Let her legs spread and said:




That’s when I began to pray:
Six hells show me how to
Say no to this
I don’t know how to
Say no to this. Gods, she engaged to my brother

But my God, she looks so princessey
And her body’s saying, “hell, yes”


Nooo, show me how to

Say no to this

I don’t know how to

Say no to this

In my mind, I’m tryin’ to go

Go! Go! Go!

Then her mouth is on mine, and I don’t say…

No! No!
Say no to this!
No! No!
Say no to this!
No! No!
Say no to this!
No! No!
Say no to this!

I wish I could say that was the last time
I said that last time. It became a pastime
A month into this endeavor I received a letter
From a Mr. James Reynolds, even better, it said:

Dear sister, I hope I finds you in good health
And I hope you've heard that our father just died
Which means I just happen to be King
And You see, that was my wife who you decided to


Uh-oh! You made the wrong sucker a cuckold
So time to pay the piper for the pants you unbuckled
And hey, you can keep seein’ my whore wife
If the price is right: if not I’m telling selling your horse

I hid the letter and I raced to her place
Screamed “How could you?!” in his face
She said:

No, sir!

Undressed, unapologetic. A mess, they looked
Pathetic, she cried:

Please don’t go, Mare!

So now i am gonna do now

I don’t know about it but I want you !

Stop crying
Goddamnit, get up!

I didn’t know any better, you're sister she's my damn lover

I am ruined...

Please don’t leave me with him helpless
Don't give him what he wants and you can have me

Whatever you want,

I am helpless—how could I do this?

I want you
I want you

If you make him
You can stay

I don’t…

I don’t…

How can you
Say no to this?

I don’t…

Six, show me how to
Say no to this
I don’t know how to
Say no to this
Cuz the situation’s helpless

And her body’s screaming, “Hell, yes”

No, show me how to
Say no to this
How can I
Say no to this?
There is nowhere I can go

When her body’s on mine I do not say…





Say no to this!

Say no to this!

Say no to this!

Say no to this!

Go! Go! Go!


Say no to this!

Say no to this!

Say no to this!

Say no to this!

Say no to this…
I don’t say no to this
There is nowhere I can go.

Don’t say no to this

Go go go...

Nobody needs to know

Full Review can be found on my blog!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Book Roast.
48 reviews8,083 followers
December 6, 2017
Thoroughly enjoyed it, was refreshingly easy to read, felt noncommittal and beautiful. It was a bit more horse related than I'd personally prefer but if you love horses or horse riding this is going to be awesome.
Profile Image for Neeks.
129 reviews936 followers
April 27, 2017
The romance was beautiful, everything else kinda fell flat
Profile Image for Paulo Ratz.
185 reviews4,911 followers
May 29, 2017
Ai que história divertidaaaaa.

Pra quem não sabe, e deveria saber porque são poucos os livros que ficam populares com essa temática, Of Fire and Stars é uma fantasia com personagens lésbicas (ou bi, esse detalhe não é bem explorado). E já fazia mais de 1 ano que eu não lia uma protagonista lésbica. A culpa pode ser minha? Pode ser sim, mas quantos livros desse tipo estão sendo esfregados na nossa cara todo dia pelas editoras? Isso mesmo, quase nenhum.

Outro ponto que preciso levantar é o rating: 3.6! WHAT? Assim, uma coisa que aprendi: rating do Goodreads serve para muitos nada. Eu já li livros super problemáticos, ou mal escritos mesmo, com notas tipo 4.4 de média. Mas me incomodei muito nesse específico, porque eu QUASE não comprei o livro físico ao ver essa média. E agora terminando de ler eu fiquei pensando: gente, MÉDIA 3,6 é muito baixo. Significa que muita gente deu 1...2 estrelas pra puxar a média tão pra baixo assim, e assim, de verdade: NÃO ACEITO. Eu ia deixar de apoiar uma autora por conta de rating!

Não é a melhor fantasia do mundo. Lá pro final algumas coisas são descritas sem a mesma riqueza de detalhes de antes, mas mesmo assim. São 2 personagens SUPER bem escritas. A relação entre elas é desenvolvida com todo cuidado e bem aos poucos. E o poder mágico que uma delas tem é bem foda, ok? Eu só consigo pensar o quanto as pessoas não estão preparadas para ler personagens lésbicas. Deve ser por isso que tem pouco livro sendo publicado e amplamente distribuído, então assim, faça a sua parte e se abra para realidades fora da sua, sabe?

Eu recomendo de verdade essa história e, POR FAVOR, não deixem o rating "baixo" afastar vocês dessa leitura. Só aceito 3 estrelas pra cima, ok? PAREI.

Estaria eu muito irritado?
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