“I wanted Mare.
I was promised to her brother.
I was in deep trouble.”
― Audrey Coulthurst,
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.
Eden: Of Fire and Stars was a book I was very excited for. The prospect of LGBTQ main characters was something that I was really excited for. However, the overall story fell flat. Unlike Caitlynn and Jenn, I did not finish this book. I read about the first 120 pages and just couldn’t get any further. In those 120 pages, I learned so much about the kingdom and world that the book was taking place in that I felt inundated with information. Simply put, it was an info dump and I quickly lost all excitement for the story.
Caitlynn: This book was so promising but fell very short. I definitely think there was too much going on and not enough book… Overall, I don’t regret reading it but it wasn’t my favorite read either. 3/5 stars.
Jenn: Inlove the idea of this book. I was excited to read this because I heard that the main characters were LGBGQ+. I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately I think sticking to a one book format hurt the book. It fell short on both world building and character development and it felt like a lot of info dumping. Overall, I gave this book 3/5 stars.
Caitlynn: Well, I didn’t hate it. But I definitely didn’t like it.
Jenn: I felt the same way that’s why I gave it three stars. It had potential but there were too many things that bothered me about it.
C: There was literally something about a horse on every single page.
C: I was really sick of horses by the end of this book.
E: You know, we made that joke when we read The Star Touched Queen that me being best friends with a horse was like my dream. So you would think I would absolutely love a book in which horses are referenced in almost every page, but I just really did not like it.
E: I DNF’d the book about 120 pages in and it was simply because that first 120 pages was painful for me to read. I was struggling to stay awake reading it. I had pages where I didn’t even know what happened because as I read through it I lost focus and couldn’t remember what I read.
J: It did get better. Once you got out of the politics in the beginning it wasn’t as monotonous.
C: Yeah, I agree.
E: Here’s my question: Is there a way Coulthurst could have written this with the politics intermingled through out instead of just a massive info dump at the beginning?
J: Honestly, they didn’t even need it in the book. They could have brushed over all of it and mentioned that there was a weird hierarchy and separation of magic, but I don’t think they needed to go in depth with the political state of the world.
C: Yeah I think it would have been just as dramatic at the end without having all the political fluff around it.
E: Is this a series?
C: I don’t know. If it is, this is a series where I will not continue it. It just wasn’t something that I would continue.
J: It wasn’t a deep enough storyline. It was all very surface level and Coulthurst really needed to either, “Ok this is going to be a political novel and I’m going to make a statement about that,” or “This is going to be a character driven novel and that’s what I’m going to focus on.” Instead she tried to do both and in turn neither one was done as well as it could be.
E: Yeah I could have liked the characters pretty quickly had there been less talk of politics. You lose the personality in these people because all their doing is dribbling politics that, as the reader, we don’t understand at this point because the world hasn’t been developed.
J: The first 100 pages is definitely an info dump on the world.
C: And it really doesn’t get much better. I really wanted to like the characters, but I never really felt anything for them.
J: No. There was no connection to the characters. I didn’t actually care what happened to the characters.
E: Closing thoughts? What do we see coming from Coulthurst in the future?
J: I think if she’s given a series she would work much better in a series rather than a stand alone novel because then she can devote each book to a different aspect. So, one could be character driven, one could be world building. She could flush out all the weak spots that we’ve seen this time around.
E: I think the beauty of this being her debut novel because what she gets to do now, she gets to look at this novel and go, “I didn’t like this. I liked this. This worked really well.” So I hope to see that kind of growth from her.
C: I liked that she normalized lesbian and gay relationships. Like it wasn’t a huge deal and it wasn’t unusual. It was just really nice to have a totally normal relationship between two ladies.