All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
From 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.
Thank you Netgalley and Titan for an early copy of this book.
Okay, so I’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time. I first heard of Adalyn Grace when I was considering applying for Pitch Wars a few years ago and she was a mentor (spoiler: I didn’t actually enter). Her book had a weird title, and the things she listed as stuff that appealed to her in fiction sounded super-cool, so I kinda kept track of the book, especially once I found out what it was about. Pirates and magic? Count me in.
And then, somehow it became one of those books where you don’t quite know what happened with UK copies. It happens sometimes, a book gets released in the US before the UK, and instead of it being a few days ahead of time, it’s actually a lot longer. I knew Owlcrate did an edition of it, but I only found out after people began unboxing. It never seemed available on Amazon and mentions of it over here just weren’t really a thing. So I’m not sure if this is finally a UK edition release, or if this is the paperback, but here we go.
So as you can imagine, I was super-excited to sink my teeth into All the Stars and Teeth (pun, unfortunately, intended). And I found it to be a really good read. The book hooked me quickly, and it was just the right amount of pace-y without becoming too recklessly fast. There was always something happening, whether it be a fight or a tense moment at sea, or some political struggles or some playful romance stuff. There was never a dull moment, and I got through the whole book in two sittings.
I enjoyed getting to know Amora, particularly as she seemed complicated and flawed. There’s some issues with her magic of course, but then there’s also some flaws which are less obvious, at least until people start to call her out on certain behaviours. If this sounds vague, I’m sorry, I just don’t want to give too much away because I feel like this is a novel that should be on more TBRs.
I also loved the other three main characters. Bastian is the epitome of a pirate, and I lived for his snarky wit throughout the book, but I also appreciated the moments where we got to delve a bit deeper into his behaviours and history and learned some more about him. And then there’s Ferrick, who is just kinda goofy and loveable. I felt pretty bad for him throughout, since it’s made very clear from the beginning that Amora doesn’t want to be engaged to him, but I also appreciated when she told him to back off. He’s the nice guy trope packaged into one delightfully sweet and cute guy, but I like that this book never suggests that Amora owes him something because he’s kind to her. Vatae has to be my favourite though. She has some killer one-liners and her desire for adventure is just so clear and palpable.
The descriptions in the novel were a real highlight for me- especially the way the sea is beautifully written about. I thought Grace did a fantastic job of showing readers how much Amora and her friends love the thrill of the adventure and the wide expanse of the horizon and the Keel Haul ship. Some of the plot was pretty predictable, and it fell into some obvious trope patterns, but it was entertaining enough that it didn’t really bother me too much. It was a very fun read.
In terms of the magic system, I liked the creativity of some of it, particularly how soul and curse magic were used. The author wasn’t afraid to show some gore and some quite dark moments. However, it can sometimes get a bit confusing at times, and there were moments when I wished there was just a little more info about Amora’s magical abilities. Especially because magic is so unique to each person in this world, so it seems a bit sudden and knee-jerking when someone can suddenly do a thing you didn’t imagine could happen, only for it to be done and for the book to move on before the reader has a chance to truly catch up.
I am really thrilled to have finally read this book though, and I’m excited to add the next one to my TBR when it comes out!
Overall, I’m giving All the Stars and Teeth a 8.5/10 stars. I loved the descriptions, and the characters, and I thought the world and magic were pretty inventive, but it sometimes lacked info and left me confused. But it was a great read, and I’m excited to read more of Adalyn Grace’s work!
Has anyone else read this book already or plans to? What do you all think of it? Let me know in the comment section down below ❤