I stumbled upon Of Fire and Stars (ISBN: 978-0062433268) by Audrey Coulthurst while browsing the YA section of the Bookworm in Myrtle Beach, SC while on vacation. The book blurb captivated me, and upon reading the book I am in awe of the powerful love story Coulthurst has created. Of Fire and Stars is the first enemies to lovers as well as first sapphic fantasy romance that I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book about learning to understand and accept one’s own heart is a book I wish I had while growing up.
Dennaleia, princess of Havemont, always knew what her future held. She was betrothed to Prince Thandilimon of Mynaria, and their union would solidify an alliance between the two nations. However, Dennaleia has a secret – she possesses an Affinity, or the gift of magic, which is forbidden in Mynaria. The future queen of Mynaria must do what she can to best serve the kingdom while hiding her true power, which for some reason is magnified in her new home.
As part of her new life in Mynaria, Dennaleia must learn the ways of Mynarians. She begins receiving riding lessons from Princess Amaranthine (Mare), sister of Thandilimon, as horses are such an important part of daily life and she is expected to ride one on her wedding day. Dennaleia is drawn to Mare for her wildly unconventional demeanor and her desire for freedom. Yet, Amaranthine detests Dennaleia for her demur, elegance, and lack of experience with horses. The first lessons are filled with tension and desires to be elsewhere.
However, the two princesses join forces after a member of the royal family is murdered by a magic arrow. As they work together, the animosity between them begins to fade and feelings become less frigid. But Dennaleia and Mare can never be more than friends – Dennaleia is promised to Thandilimon, and the unstable political climate makes the alliance more important than ever. The two princesses must choose between their hearts and their kingdom.
Coulthurst does a wonderful job crafting her characters and creating varying levels of conflict within her fantasy world. There are some predictable parts (I guessed who the true antagonist was early on), and there are times you just want to push Denna and Mare together! But I love how Coutlhurst actively shows what it looks like to fall in love. I also love that the book ends with a sense of closure for the reader. However, there are still lots of questions left swirling in the reader’s mind, so I’m excited to read the sequel!
Overall, I give this book 4.5/5 stars. This is a wonderfully crafted fantasy book with an inspiring LGBTQ+ romance. In addition, I enjoyed the horses in the book. It transported me back to simpler days in which I read horse books all the time in middle school. YA readers who enjoy magic and romance (and horses) will enjoy Of Fire and Stars.
Order your copy of Of Fire and Stars here!
Order your copy of the sequel, Of Ice and Shadows, here!