All the Stars and Teeth is a fun young adult fantasy that should appeal to all fans of the genre. Rather than striving for unique elements, it combines typical tricks and tropes to great effect, weaving a compelling – if predictable – story.
The book is told from a single point of view. Amora Montara, princess of the island kingdom of Visidia, is preparing for the biggest day of her life – the day when she proves her mastery of soul magic, to take over her father’s role as High Animancer. The High Animancer protects the kingdom from the Beast, a mysterious force which gains power if anyone in Visidia attempts to learn more than one magic. However, Amora’s demonstration doesn’t go to plan, and her life may be on the line – until she’s rescued by the mysterious Bastian, a pirate from the exiled kingdom of Zudoh. Together, Amora, Bastian – and Amora’s fiancé Ferrick, who sneaks after them – set off on a quest to save Zudoh – and potentially the whole kingdom.
Amora reads exactly like a teenage princess should – spoiled, entitled, sheltered, and desperate to be free and make her own choices. At times, this makes her an unlikeable protagonist, but I applaud Adalyn Grace’s decision to make Amora realistic. Her interactions with Ferrick and Vataea are excellent – Vataea especially helps make Amora more human. On the other hand, the romance was predictable and toed the line of insta-love, and I never felt the chemistry – I feel like a little more build-up would have helped.
Bastian is a great character. For a pirate, he’s a very nice, caring guy – even if he does spend a lot of time stealing and threatening people with swords. I’m slightly disappointed there weren’t more pirates – the story around Keel Haul is great, and a magic ship is always going to be a good thing, but a pirate crew is an opportunity to add humour and banter, and a book sold with pirates on the tagline really needs more than one pirate. As only Amora gets a point of view, much of Bastian’s story remains a mystery – but he’s still a well-enough rounded character.
My favourite part of this world is the magic system. The idea of each character having a magic – most based on their island of origin, but not all – is intriguing, and I wish we got to see more of it. I also adore soul magic – Grace didn’t play down how horrific it could be, and it’s fascinating seeing the other characters’ reactions to Amora using it. Amora oscillates between delight at her power and horror at the costs, which can be jarring – but for a teenager who’s been doing this since she was a child, her reactions seem realistic.
Overall, this is a solid young adult fantasy. Recommended for fans of interesting magic systems, strong female heroines, and pirates (with the caveat that there’s not a great deal of piracy).
*Thanks to NetGalley and Titan Books for providing an eARC of this book – this in no way affects the content of this review*
Published by Titan Books
Paperback: 4th August 2020