Genre: YA Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ
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 before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.
Today, I’m here with Audrey, and I asked her to talk about her top 5 favorite female heroines! Without further ado, here’s what she said!
Princess Cimorene (Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede)
More than any other heroine, Cimorene directly influenced OF FIRE AND STARS. A school librarian handed me Dealing with Dragons when I was in elementary school, making me a lifelong fantasy reader with an enduring fondness for improper princesses. Cimorene is practical, reasonable, and interested in shaping her own fate instead of letting others decide it for her—qualities every person can be inspired by.
Aeryn Sun (Farscape)
Aeryn Sun kicks ass first and asks questions later, but what endears her most to me is the way she grows and changes throughout the series. Born into a militant extraterrestrial race, her journey is as much about understanding the value of friends and family as it is about fighting for her life. The love story between her and John Crighton is one of the greatest ever told (and definitely among my favorite heterosexual ships).
Xena (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Perhaps what is most compelling about Xena is how flawed she is. Her quest is one for redemption from past crimes rather than glory, which adds a lot of complexity to her character. Best of all, sometimes she’s downright hilarious. Her ability to fight her enemies and have a sense of humor about it left a lasting impression on me.
Jillian Holtzmann (Ghostbusters)
I really admire people who can lean into their own weirdness, and that’s exactly what Kate McKinnon does as Holtzmann in the new Ghostbusters movie. Holtzmann is smart, eccentric, crude, hilarious, and best of all she’s confident in those things. Safety lights are for dudes.
Talia (Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey)
Talia is the opposite of a classic sword-and-sorcery heroine, and that’s what makes me love her. Chosen by a Companion (read: magical spirit horse) to be the Queen’s Own Herald at a very young age, she has a lot of catching up to do when she arrives at the Collegium. She’s small, physically weak, and doesn’t seem to share the kinds of magical gifts her classmates have. My favorite thing about her is that her growth and coming of age is not about changing herself or becoming something she’s not—it’s about embracing who she already is. Her empathy, not physical strength, is the gift the queen truly requires.
Huge thanks to Audrey for being here!
Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. Her debut novel, Of Fire and Stars, will be published on November 22, 2016 by Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.
Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University, is a member of SCBWI, and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
3 Finished Copies of OF FIRE AND STARS (US Only)
Follow the rest of the tour!
11/14: What Sarah Read – Review
11/16: Addicted 2 Novels – Review
11/22: IN WONDERLAND – Review
11/23: No BS Book Reviews – Q&A
11/24: Don’t Fold the Page – Review
11/25: Arctic Books – Top 5