A Court of Coffee and Books
A Debut Perfect for Fans of Fantasy and High-Seas Adventures
Reviewed in the United States on 8 February 2020
“Fear is part of life; all that matters is what we do with it.”
2020 is off to a great reading year, all thanks to this beautiful fantasy debut. All the Stars and Teeth is a powerful and adventurous debut that is bound to be a front runner in the YA fantasy section this year. This book has strong characters, pirates, mermaids, an unique magic system, and exquisite action scenes. But most of all, this story has heart and showcases what it means to handle an unknown future and to fight for a world you want to protect.
“But even our idols–those we want to love and trust more than anything–can let us down.”
This world, this story, is everything I look for in a YA fantasy book. There’s constant action in this book, starting from the first page to the last sentence. There was never a time where the story was overwhelming or description-overload; it had the perfect amount of witty banter and magic. The world Adalyn Grace has created is breathtaking and spellbinding; I love the whole island concept and the magic system. But though I loved the world, the characters are what sold this story to me.
“The mistakes I made in the past do not make me weak; I’ll use them to become stronger. I’m done being afraid of my own power.”
I absolutely loved the characters. Amora is strong and fierce and will do absolutely anything for her people and kingdom. Her bravery, selflessness, and unrelenting desire to fix the wrongs is what made her voice interesting and captivating. Her soul magic is what makes her people (and herself) frightened; it’s a magic she intends to master and use for good, but first, she has to choose to no longer be afraid of her dangerous magic and her past. Her story is one that is mesmerizing and she has a voice that demands to be heard, a voice that easily makes this story a dazzling read.
“We’ve shared an experience only a few people will understand, and it’s marked our souls. The sea is a beast more fearsome than even the Lusca.”
And then there’s Bastian, the pirate who wants his stolen magic back, but also wants to see a mysterious evil brought to its end. Bastian is definitely swoon-worthy, but also soft, in a good way. He has a deep and hurtful history that, at times, becomes personal to the story. His past has scarred him, but yet he continues to move on and fight for what’s right. Bastian is, in every way, a character with many flaws but a strong soul, which is why him and Amora have such a strong bond. And I loved their scenes together; they have great chemistry together and both, in similar yet different ways, want what’s best for the kingdom. Their romance is not so strong that it overtakes the whole story, but it’s strong enough to illustrate that there is more to come for both characters. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely romance (and kissing!), but it builds overtime and not all at once, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
But I have to say one of my overall favorite characters was Vataea. She’s sassy and, at some times, quite charming but she proves to be an ally and possibly a friend. Her scenes (especially with Ferrick) had me jumping for joy because I loved the idea of a powerful mermaid who fits perfectly well with this ordinary crew. I’m really hoping to see more of her in the second book; she’s got an interesting backstory, and I’d love to find out more about her.
“We’re more than our blood, both of us.”
Adalyn Grace’s writing is lush and beautiful. She depicts a world of enchantment and magic, but also filled with growing darkness and fear. I was easily able to fall into this story and imagine myself beside Amora and her crew. Grace’s writing is filled with so much heart that I could see just how much this story meant to her. Her writing is lyrical at times, especially when describing the islands and the magic system and characters. Grace can also weave together an action scene so splendidly that it felt as if I was on the ship with them, fighting the sea beast or the cursed darkness. Her writing, overall, provided the perfect voice for this wonderful fantasy story.
All the Stars and Teeth will most likely be one of my favorite reads of the year. If you enjoy fantasy stories with a swoon-worthy pirate, loyal friends, dangerous mermaids, and a unique magic system, then I definitely recommend reading this beautiful story. I can’t wait for the second book, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to gush about this book to anyone!
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