I have a secret: I gleefully peruse the bookstore shelves fully intending to pick out a book by its cover. I will probably check out the blurb to make sure the book is one that will entertain me or challenge me in some way but I’ve been fooled by blurbs before. Granted, I’ve been fooled by covers as well but this has occurred less frequently.
Recently I picked out a fantasy/pirate book, All the Stars and Teeth (Adalyn Grace), based almost solely on its cover art. The Goodreads summary is this: “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.”
Praises for All the Stars and Teeth
The first thing that I loved about this book was the beautiful, lyrical language. I feel like I could have read it out loud and been transported to the magical world myself, there to witness monsters and mermaids firsthand. The author used brilliant turns of phrase to describe such things as magic: “The beast whispers mercilessly in my head, telling me to rid the island of this tainted man, and then to find others.” The main character, Amora, is struggling to control her magic and it’s getting out of hand. She goes to jail and eventually gets rescued and escapes with a pirate.
Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the creativity of the magic system. Amora accesses her magic through bones, teeth, and blood. She activates them by fire. “I wrap the whispers around me and smear the fingers along the drops of Blarthe’s blood on my hand. It’s not enough blood to kill him, but it’s enough to bind his soul to the finger I toss into the flames.” Amora uses her magic to get the upper hand in many situations, rather than just to win a fight or to kill people. She uses her intellect and her intuition first, then her magic.
Criticism for All the Stars and Teeth
I don’t have a lot of criticism for this book. If anything, I would say that around the 2/3 mark, it started to drag a little bit. It almost seemed as if things got off-track from the plot, although everything was entertaining and very readable. The characters stop at a secluded village to rest and regroup, which makes sense, but the plot stalls here for too long.
This book’s cover did not disappoint, with its skeletons, skulls, and daggers. The beautiful blue-black color and the font that looks like it’s made out of swords also added to the appeal. All in all, an excellent find for shopping by the cover art. Go get All the Stars and Teeth and tell me what you thought of it.