Book Title: Of Fire and Stars
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Genre(s)/Categories: Queer Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.74
My Rating: 3.5/4 out of 5 stars
Brief Synopsis: Princess is betrothed to a neighboring kingdom’s prince but soon falls for his horse-trainer sister as they work together to thwart an evil plan to start a war against those with magic and the kingdoms that support them.
So I’ve been on a little bit of a hiatus the past few weeks. I’ve been super busy at work and helping my parents with some small remodeling projects around their house and I’ve barely had any time to read, much less write reviews about the books I’m (barely) reading. I just finished this one today so I’m trying to get this review done while it is still fresh in my head. I actually won this book on Twitter! The author was doing a giveaway and I was one of a few people who won a signed (and personalized) book.
I’ve seen some bad and not-so-great reviews about this one on Goodreads and although I may agree with certain aspects, I enjoyed this one. The premise – princess is betrothed to prince but falls for his horse-trainer sister instead – is one that I wholeheartedly support. This is the story I’ve wanted when reading other princess-betrothed-to-prince tales and I did not realize how much I wanted to read the queer version of it until now.
The romance part was excellent. Great sexual tension between the two princesses for a good chunk of the book. 👌 Their interactions started with forced horse-riding lessons that neither of them wanted and, between you and me, I love this trope. Give me two people who start out disliking/irritating each other or are simply forced to spend some time together and I will immediately start shipping them together. Especially if they are the same gender. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship and friendship grow – they really start to trust and understand one another when everyone else is undervaluing their talents. Which is important. I love reading healthy, same-sex relationships in books. And the society in which they live seems to be one that is pretty open and accepting of same-sex relationships (it seemed as if class differences mattered a lot more) so the main conflict was the fact that the princess was betrothed to the other princess’s brother. This is still a major problem, but different from the normal objections about same-sex relationships.
Some negative reviews complained about the whole “young people who know better than all the adults around them” trope that was present in this book. This didn’t bother me one bit. Yes, some of the leaders were quick to overreact and assume things about their enemies but that felt completely plausible to me. And maybe I’ve had different experiences than the reviewers who didn’t like this aspect, but, there are plenty of instances where young women are not believed by those who think they are older and smarter. Even older women. All women in fact. I’m sure the majority of us female identified people (or at least non-male-identified folks) have had experiences where men, especially older men, think they know better than a woman. I LOVE when I read stories where the women, especially young women, are proven right. I think we need more of these. In fact, I believe all stories should revolve around women proving the men in their lives wrong. Okay. My misandrist side popped out there without me realizing it. Oops. 😜 That happens occasionally. Or every single day. Anywhooooooo…
The fantasy element was interesting, I enjoyed learning about this world and the different groups of people in it. I do think we could have had more world building to get a better idea of the different nations and players in the story. However, since I consider this story a romance first and a fantasy story second it didn’t bother me that much. Honestly, I’m such a sucker for romances I will love a story even if the romance part is the only good part of the story. Not that the other parts weren’t good – they just weren’t as good as the romance. Which I am 100% okay with. I’m not sure if this is a standalone or if there will be a continuation of this story (I hope so) but if there is another one, that story would be a good opportunity to continue the world building and add additional details for the readers. Overall, a good same-sex ya fantasy romance.
Queer Stories Rating Scale:
Angst: 1/5 – There was little angst related to the queer characters’ identities.
Coming Out: 1/5 – There wasn’t a strict coming-out scene but the coming out wasn’t very negative. The negative aspects were related to the fact that the princess was betrothed to someone else but not about any queer identity.
Believability: 5/5 – The queer relationships in this one felt very believable. The sexual tension and relationship between the two princesses was very believable (and hot).