Review: Of Fire and Stars
I was incredibly excited about this book, I pre-ordered it back in May, and have tried to pre-order it at least a dozen times since then.
I was super excited for the Princess Romance, and on that front, I don't think I was disappointed. However, I feel that the world building was lacking, and there could have been so much more of it done. From the first time the Six were explained, I was like "hey, the gods line up with the magics people have" and I felt somewhat rewarded when that plot point was revealed, but then I didn't feel like it was ever addressed again, nor was the fact that Dennaleia was clearly multi-gifted ever really addressed. It seemed like she might be some Chosen One, but that thread was left dangling. There were multiple other times were I felt like a plot thread was starting, only to have it go nowhere, or unsatisfyingly explained.
Another thing that bugged me was the geography. I could never get a good sense of where various kingdoms were situated. At the end, when it was clear the what S wanted was Z land, I became very confused. S is a desert, and Z was arctic mountains, how close were they? A map would have been helpful.
I also was irritated by some of the lack of character development from the secondary characters. Obviously they are not PoV characters, but I wanted SOMETHING from Thandi. I was really disappointed with how he handled pretty much everything, and felt like the book at times wanted me to hate him just for being the obstacle to Denna and Mare. I was especially disappointed in how he handled finding out about Denna and Mare. I know Mare repeatedly says Thandi treats women as objects, but I was hoping for him to realize at this moment that he was wrong. I wanted him to grow up so badly.
I did enjoy the love story a lot! The love-to-hate, hate-to-love tension there felt really genuine, and the struggle with their attraction to each other wasn't angst over both being women. I enjoyed that it was angst over the situation. I felt the author balanced that "initial spark" that they both seemed to feel at their introduction with letting the relationship grow organically over time from friends to lovers. Some romances rely too much on "instant attraction" to carry the romance forward, and I didn't feel like this one did.
I have high hopes though, since this is a debut novel, that the world building, character development, and plot pacing and plot structure will improve, grow, and we can have more princess x princess love stories.