Of Fire and Stars & Every Heart a Doorway – Fantasy books that flopped hard and fast

Of fire and stars & Every heart a doorway

I listened to both of these as audiobooks while driving around so I didn’t take notes, hence why these reviews are just *mini* and not my usual full length.

(No Spoilers)

Title: Of Fire and StarsAudrey Coulthurst - Of Fire and Stars

Author: Audrey Coulthurst

Publication date : November 22nd, 2016

Publisher : Balzar+Bray

Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy

Page Count: 389goodreads

Synopsis : 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. (From Goodreads)

Rating: 1.5 stars

CW: Death, arsony, slight violence

I was gonna keep this contained on Goodreads. Of Fire and Stars was -to me- the worst book I read in 2018 and I didn’t see the point in reviewing it on here. BUT when that review (which was basically just a bunch of screaming) was shared to twitter I got quite a few questions as to what exactly I didn’t like so here it is:

I’m going to be upfront with you, the main reason I read this book is because it has a sapphic relationship in a fantasy setting. The premise just sounds full of potential, alright? But it completely failed to deliver on all front. As I said, the first thing that picked my interest is the f/f relationship since those are pretty rare in fantasy books but even that was completely ruined for me by the time I got to the end. I started off LOVING how things developed, slowburn, being a friendship first and then towards the second half of the book, the girls realizing they have romantic feelings for each other. But then there was so much unnecessary angst and unnecessary drama?? I just grew tired of them.

And then there’s the actual story. Which…is….pretty much non-existant. The author just throws you into a world you know nothing about and expects you to understand it and it’s never really explained throughout the book either. The main thing in the book is that people with magic are being hunted, but we never know why? Why do people hate magic users? Why exactly are all these kingdoms forming alliances? Where is the world building? And what made it worse is that the “conflict” is ALL built on these child-men (the king and his council) not listening to anything even WITH PROOF because they can.

The last thing I want to touch upon are the characters. They’re very one dimensional, cardboard cut-outs that are either proper or rebel, evil or good. The stark difference was seen especially between Denna who is this good girl who never ever strays away from her duty and Mare who is this rebel girl that never cares about anything or anyone and does whatever she wants whenever she wants. And there was also the fact that generally speaking, magic users can usually wield one element but Denna can wield multiple and we never know how?? or why?? I just felt like nothing was properly explained and things were thrown in at the plot’s convenience.

Title: Every Heart a DoorwaySeanan McGuire - Every Heart a Doorway

Author: Seanan McGuire

Series: Wayward Children #1

Publication date : April 5th, 2016

Publisher : Tor Books

Genre : Young Adult | Fantasygoodreads

Page Count: 169

Synopsis : The little mermaid has no idea that as she makes her way on land, she’s being watched over by the sister of the very witch with whom she made her bargain. She has no idea that the witch’s sister is falling in love with her.
When the prince decides to marry another woman, the little mermaid’s secret helper offers her a chance to live. But the price may be too high…
.  (From Goodreads)

Rating:2 stars

CW: Transphobia (not condoned), gore, blood, death, murder

I was so freaking pumped to read (or listen to) Every Heart a Doorway when I found it on Scribd because I had heard only great things about it so I went in pretty confident I would love it because “What happens to the children who go through magical doors when they come back?” sounds like an amazing twist on the popular fantasy trope. But it fell short for me in terms of execution for a few reasons.

The story starts off promising, I wasn’t bored right off the bat, in contrary, I was intrigued and eager to learn more about all these kids and how all the worlds they come back from work. But I found that, with how much potential this premise has, the author barely grazes the surface explanation wise, It was done in bits and pieces which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t that the SAME bits and pieces were repeated over and over again, the same exact way so I ended up losing interest halfway into the novella.

One thing I liked though, is the message of the book. It’s all about identity and believing yourself and IN yourself when no one else seems to do it for you as well as finding a support system of people who *get* you. At its core, Every Heart a Doorway has a beautiful message but I just wish the rest did it justice. This book is gruesome and has very graphic and detailed scenes of murdered and dismembered people but even that didn’t do much for me because there was no build up or momentum so when the murderer was finally revealed it felt anticlimactic.

The characters all felt very one dimensional which I suspect was done on purpose but i felt like it didn’t work for the story, it just made it feel very caricatural. The main character, Nancy, (who is SO painfully boring), is said to be asexual but the definition of ace the author uses is overly simplistic and lumps in ace, aro and sex-repulsed, talking about not wanting sex and romantic attraction in the same breath as sexual attraction. Props for the use of the word asexual in text but then to go and say that she feels “aesthetic and not romantic attraction” when it’s never stated Nancy is aro as well felt icky to me. The rep is ownvoices so it’s accurate to the author and probably many readers but to me, someone on the aro spectrum, it felt like erasure. This is something I want people (especially fellow aros) to know that going in.

That’s it until next time.

Did you read either of these books? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.


8 thoughts on “Of Fire and Stars & Every Heart a Doorway – Fantasy books that flopped hard and fast

  1. Huh, I haven’t read either but I actually have Every Heart a Doorway on my TBR. When I realized I was ace myself I went and found peoples recs of books with good ace rep and this was one of them. Flat characters sounds like something I wouldn’t be able to get through, I love complex characters and good character arcs too much.


  2. I’m sad about the rep erasure in every heart a doorway. I really wanted to read it because I’d heard it had a great ace rep explanation in it but mixing it up with aro rep doesn’t sound good. I’ll still read it but am less pumped about it now.


  3. Pingback: Wrapping up 2018 – Most disappointing reads of the year | Word Wonders

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