Title: All the Stars and Teeth
Author: Adalyn Grace
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: August 4th, 2020.
*･｡ﾟPlease consider supporting your local indie bookshop – ask if they have this in stock! ☆ﾟ.*･｡ﾟ
I was approved to review a digital review copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review will be cross-posted on NetGalley and Goodreads.
Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.
She will reign.
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.
I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.
(Taken from Goodreads)
The Book Review
Thank you SO MUCH, Netgalley and Titan Books, for gracing me with an ARC of this wonderful debut. All the Stars and Teeth was already on my radar (I mentioned it the first time in this post). What drew me in was the promise of a new epic fantasy featuring ships, seafaring and mermaids. If you’ve followed me for a while or have read my bio, you will know that I am obsessed with anything related to ships and the sea. So when I saw this title appear on NetGalley, I immediately requested it. It was probably one of the best decisions I made this year!
Trigger Warnings: some body horror, abusive relationship, self-harm
What I Liked
Visidia is a treasure trove of inventive world-building and an exploration of the power of oral storytelling (and lies) in shaping a nation’s culture. The magic system is well-balanced, with no single magic feeling overpowered compared to the others. The whole cursed soul magic business was a bit nebulous, but I think that’s accounted for, as the characters are just as confused about it. And while it is true that the book contains some YA tropes and clichés, I think these are presented in a fresh light that makes them fit well within the overarching story.
I loved how the world was based on precious stones! I’m partial about that because my own fantasy world is based on similar logic. I’m not sure if there is a reason why jewels are used, but if there is, I would have liked to know a little bit more about it. Anyway, this is just a nitpick, really.
The action and the pace of this novel are absurd. And those TWISTS! I’m hooked. The story kept going at a sustained pace, constantly introducing new elements to keep the action going and interest levels high. The seafaring element also worked well without being unnecessary or cheesy – although I feel that the travel times are slightly under-estimated (only two weeks from the beginning to the end, including four or five different boat journeys?).
Kudos go to the absolutely wonderful and gorgeous Vataea, whom I can’t wait to read more about, and to that cover design! I love when covers feature small details from the book that make sense only after reading.
What I Liked a Little Less
Although the world of Visidia, with all its different islands and magic styles, is fascinating to explore, I feel like the story could have used a bit more “tightening up” at the beginning. There are pockets of exposition and world-building which, in my humble opinion, made it a little overwhelming. I feel that details about the other islands naturally arise through world exploration and didn’t necessarily need such a hefty introduction right at the beginning of the novel. (Re)Discovering the world with Amora would have felt much more organic, in a way. This is also true for the (I think) extensive clothes descriptions that crowd the beginning of the book but ebb off by midpoint. However, it didn’t deter me from reading on, I should specify.
The other bit that kept me from giving it a full five shining stars (and some teeth) was the romance element. While I WAS indeed rooting for them (trying to keep it spoiler-free), I felt like they didn’t have much time to really get to know each other properly. They both hold secrets, burdens and a shared vision, but I would have liked to see them have some more meaningful interaction and bonding beyond secret-sharing. That said, I’m very excited to see where this relationship will go in the sequel (especially after THAT twist) and if another ship (get it?) I’ve been hoping for will actually set sail.
I’m really excited to see this fantasy debut hit the UK shelves! Excellent work; I can’t wait for the second instalment in the series!
Would I recommend this book? Yes!!
Other books like this: Our Bloody Pearl comes to mind.
(Link redirects to Goodreads)
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