Today is the publication day for Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. Like M-E Girard’s Girl Mans Up, I have a special history with this novel, and I’m so thrilled to celebrate its launch today. Audrey submitted an early draft of Of Fire and Stars to the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging Writers’ Retreat back in 2013. (This is a weeklong residential retreat for LGBTQ+ writers, and I’m teaching it again in August 2017. If you’re an LGBTQ+ writer, you can apply here.) I remember reading Audrey’s writing sample and thinking: Holy crap, this is a book I have longed for my entire life — it can’t possibly be real!
This is what happens in Of Fire and Stars: A princess (Denna) arrives in a foreign kingdom to make a political marriage to a man she doesn’t know, only to discover she is unexpectedly and suddenly attracted to her fiancé’s sister (Mare). Mare is quite a badass, too. She eschews court drama and spends her time in the stables, training horses, and gallivanting around the city like a rebel. Because the kingdom that Denna is marrying into highly values horses and horsemanship, Denna is forced to learn how to ride — and Mare, of course is assigned to teach her.
Although Mare initially detests this assignment and the two women have sparky arguments during riding lessons, beneath those disagreements is, of course, romance. As they get to know each other, Denna and Mare become embroiled in a political intrigue involving kings, assassins, magic, and undercover visits to the town pub — plus some climbing through windows in the middle of the night to, you know, get to know each other. Denna is a thoughtful and smart young woman who knows how to use her intelligence to her benefit, and she is a perfect foil to the fiery tempered and risk-loving Mare.
Readers, this book is so romantic. If you’re like me and/or you’ve enjoyed my fantasy novels, you will love this book. It has all the elements that many fantasy novels have — royalty, balls, weapons, training montages, clandestine visits to pubs while wearing cloaks, and secret magic — plus this book has queer women. In love. With each other!
We all deserve an escape into the world that Audrey has created in Of Fire and Stars. I assure you: This is the young adult fantasy you have been waiting for. So why not go and get yourself a copy? You can pick it up at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, your local independent bookstore, or ask for it at your local library. I know you’ll love it as much as I did.