“Princesses don’t play with fire.” – Audrey Coulthurst
Even though this was not the most perfect read, I still had so much fun with it! This story follows a princess named Denna who was always destined to be betrothed to her neighboring kingdom’s prince. However, Denna has a secret. She has an affinity for fire magic, something which is strictly forbidden in her kingdom and her betrothed’s. So, Denna must try to hide her powers as they continue to get stronger and stronger. This story also follows a girl named Amaranthine, aka Mare, who is the prince’s sister and renowned horse trainer. The two girls meet when Denna has to learn how to ride a horse and a cute little story of hate to love begins!
What I really loved about this story was the relationship between Denna and Mare. They start off hating each other but slowly grow to care deeply about one another. I have not read many sapphic romances this year, but this one certainly made me want to pick up some more! I just thought Denna and Mare’s chemistry was top notch ~ I also really loved the side characters like Nils, who offered some cute banter along the way. However, the two leading girls really sold this story for me. I also really loved the writing. It was not overly complicated, but it was still really beautiful nonetheless.
I had heard some mixed reviews about this story before going into it and I can see why some people may not like it that much. The plot was a bit weak and the magic system is not very well explained. The setting was also pretty typical of a YA fantasy with the fancy castle. However, like I said, I was reading mostly for Denna and Mare and I just loved them together! This is definitely more on the light rom-com vibes side as opposed to a dark, gripping fantasy story, but I really love those kind of stories so I was sold! I think what saved me was going into this book with low expectations. So, I was really pleasantly surprised that I was enjoying myself so much!
Even though I mentioned how the plot was kind-of weak… I was still surprised at some of the twists at the end of the story. I remember gasping aloud a couple a times as the climax happened. I think this world has a lot of potential. Sadly, the sequel does not seem to have that good of reviews so I am nervous to pick it up. But who knows! Maybe I will love it as much as this first one (:
“But some things are stronger than years of freedom.
The draw of fire.
A longing for freedom.
Or a girl on a red horse.” – Audrey Coulthurst