Review: Of Fire and Starts by Audrey Coulthurst

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Goodreads

4/5 fiery stars for a f/f fantasy novel with a forbidden romance.

“…I knew that given the chance to do everything over again, I would willingly make the same mistakes twenty times over.” 

Of Fire and Stars is one of those books that gets better as you keep reading, in my opinion. Of course, I read an ARC given to me through a diverse book initiative (which I really appreciate!), so things may have changed for the final version. But midway through the book, I started listening to the audiobook, alternating between reading and listening. I really loved the narrating of the audiobook! The voices were very fitting.

The forbidden romance in this book builds up slowly – it’s not instalove. I appreciated that. And it’s forbidden because Dennaleia or ‘Denna’ is promised to Thandilimon or ‘Thandi’, but she falls for Amaranthine or ‘Mare’ instead.

That being said, the pacing of this book was a tad slow at times, and I really missed a backstory as to why the kingdom of Mynaria was so anti-magic. Was it xenophobia, or perhaps more? Other than that, the worldbuilding was quite nice. It was simple, but effective. The religion of the Six plays an important role from the start, and as the end of the book comes near, you learn more about the magic system.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this magic system, to be quite honest. From the beginning we know that Denna has an Affinity for fire, and the way this is described is done very well. However, this soon falls into the cliché of a severely overpowered main character. I’ll avoid giving spoilers, but I personally wasn’t a fan of the way this was executed.

However, I was a fan of the ending of the book and the role Denna’s magic played in this. I do very much wish to read the sequel, once it’s out.

As for the writing, it contains some beautiful descriptions. I’m especially fond of the way horses and riding are described. It brought back some of my childhood memories. The romance-related descriptions were also good, as were the descriptions of food and clothing. I did sometimes have a hard time envisioning the surroundings, but this didn’t bother me too much.

I will say I was a bit concerned when one of the only POC in the book was immediately painted as an antagonist, but as the book progresses, everything becomes less black and white, and she becomes more of a gray character.

If you with to read this book, be prepared for politics, magic and heartbreak. I would recommend this book to people who like these kinds of things.

Until next time,

Rachel

Graceful Goddess

An ungracefully autistic mortal

 

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