Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars
Boarding a magical ship and following the tail of a wandering mermaid, you’ll be absolutely shanghaied into joining a fearless heroine with ominous magical abilities and her newfound crew as they set sail to save the kingdom!
This title has been one of the more highly anticipated YA Fantasy releases of 2020 so far, and it’s also the author’s debut novel as well! Saying that, it’s a pretty impressive work to say the least, and with a solid first book under her belt, Adalyn Grace has a bright looking future in YA literature. Not much is known about her, but in her short author bio, I thought it was worth mentioning that she was actually an intern on Nickelodeon’s animated show, The Legend of Korra, and is a big fan of burritos; add those two facts with how she’s written a story taking place on the high seas with pirates, mermaids, curses, romance, and plenty of danger, I may have a friend-crush on her!
Adalyn if you’re reading this, you’ve got a bookish friend in me! Let’s grab some burritos sometime and talk bookish topics!
It was a lot of fun to get this book as a surprise in the February Owlcrate box with the theme that was “The Power Within” (For those of you who don’t know, Owlcrate is a YA Fantasy monthly subscription box where there’s a theme, several bookish gift items based off well known books that fit that theme, and a special edition of a newly released book that they don’t reveal until the box literally plops onto your doorstep! I personally recommend trying it out!)
Here’s a link to their official website: www.owlcrate.com
You saw the original cover on the top of this post, but check out their exclusive edition that came with the order:
They added more colors to the scheme of the cover but kept it in shades pertaining to the ocean and it’s many majesties and mysteries, it’s own original foil design inside the jacket, plus was signed by the author herself with a special letter!
Alright, so special editions and gorgeous covers aside, back to the book itself and my reasoning behind my rating. Basically, overall it was a fun read filled with interesting imagery and enjoyable characters, and while the adventure they partake on in the story was action packed it never really blew my mind or made it feel like the stakes were high enough. I never felt like the characters were in real danger. The intensity and emotional impact wasn’t all there, but like I said, this book was fun and pretty impressive for a debut!
What It’s About:
As princess of the island kingdom of 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 her, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the Visidian 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 from a conniving tyrant.
But sailing the islands of their world holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora had ever 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.
What I Liked:
- The Main Cast of Characters! Our Protagonist is Amora Montara, who is the princess of Arida, about to ascend the throne if she can showcase her particular soul magic in a ceremony. We also have Bastian, a pirate of a ship named the Keel Haul, and he was a fun & sexy character to add to the story. He’s certainly keeping plenty of secrets, but has a nice romantic dynamic with Amora. There’s Ferrick, who’s betrothed to Amora through an arrangement much like plenty of royal family histories, and he was a little tropey by being the skinny, naive boy who makes it easy for the MC to pick the other love interest, but he does grow a pair later on in the story which I appreciated! Then there’s Vataea, a kidnapped and vengeful mermaid who is rescued by the others in order to save the kingdom. She was vicious and adorable all at the same time if you can believe it!
- The Group Dynamic Aboard the Ship! One of the real highlights of the book was the group aboard the ship and their development as their mission is acted out. While Bastian and Amora have an obvious attraction to each other, the author also explores that possibility with the other two, and am curious to see how that plays out in the next book!
- Pirates & Mermaids Aesthetic! I’ve always been a fan of them since I’d first watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl back in the day! I still consider it to be one of my all time favorite movies, and I’ve always had a love for the ocean and mermaids. Ariel from The Little Mermaid was always my favorite Disney princess growing up! I’m glad to see a Fantasy novel have these qualities that I adore, and not just for that reason but because they aren’t used as often as I’d like!
- The Gorgeous Cover Design! Add this book to any list of books that have absolutely stunning and artistic cover design! It certainly draws the eye, both the Owlcrate Edition I have and the original!
- 7 Magic Systems! People that love well thought out magic systems will appreciate that this novel can boast an astounding number of them! Each island in the story hosts people who have a specific ability as it’s a part of the history of the land and is basically law.
- Amora is Morally Grey! She’s not some Mary-Sue, goody-two-shoes type that will bore you to tears; the princess has a dark side! She’s not afraid to draw blood in a fight and smirk at the sight of her weapon protruding out of her enemies, and you really see it in the ceremony in the beginning of the book. Amora having her boss-bitch moment and embracing her dark side had me like:
What I Didn’t Like:
- I Wanted More Mermaids…The hype surrounding this book was that there were many vengeful mermaids the characters would come across through their journey, but all I’ve met so far is just Vataea, who says she may be one of the last of her kind! I hope the next book will show us more of the sirens of the deep, and have them be as beautiful and terrifying, much like the ones you saw in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie!
- This Was A Little Too Predictable…Honestly, as someone who’s read quite a few Fantasy titles, both Adult and YA, this book didn’t bring too much “new” to the table in terms of plot, story arcs, etc. Nothing really shocked me, none of the twists really blew me away; for the most part I’d seen it all before.
Overall, All the Stars and Teeth was not a bad debut novel by any means! I enjoyed the characters, the setting, the worldbuilding, and the fact that there’s romance treated as a subplot rather than being a big driving force. The plot was more or less the same sort of story any sort of fantasy reader has read before, especially in YA Fantasy, but it’s still easy to get swept away if you connect with Amora and the crew of the Keel Haul. While I wasn’t disappointed and definitely plan to read the second part of this duology when it releases in 2021 most likely, it also didn’t exactly blow me away to the point of me obsessing and immediately pushing it onto my friends/coworkers to read. I still had fun reading it, it was just nothing too new or mind-blowing for me personally, BUT the positives do outweigh the negatives!
I would recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a more ocean-centric Fantasy/Adventure title to try out, and of course anyone who enjoys Pirates and Mermaids! Quite honestly, I don’t see as many novels coming out that feature those aspects, so it’s a nice change of pace to keep the genre a little fresh, plus I plan to write a Fantasy book series with a lot of similar aesthetics, so it gave me an opportunity to compare and think of how to take the idea even further! If you love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes, or the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, I have a feeling you’d enjoy adding this title to your bookshelf!
Thanks for Reading!
— Nick Goodsell