All the Stars and Teeth, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
All the Stars and Teeth, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Swirl of cool magical ideas has mermaids, sea monsters, too.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers can compare the magic practiced here with those in other fantasies. They can also learn more about the Five Elements (earth, water, fire, air, spirit) in various Eastern philosophy traditions and think about how fantasy stories often convert these traditions into magical practice.

Positive Messages

Conquering fear and honoring duty are both important here. Plus the reminder that even our idols can let us down. Power is a corrupting force craved by the weak and evil and the path to just rule is a hard one.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You would think a princess trained to torture and kill with her magic would be a brooding figure, but mostly Amora is focused on her duty to her kingdom, even as her role and her perspective change. She's adventurous and brave and deals with the disappointment in her father maturely -- she doesn't believe his mistakes make him a horrible person. She refuses to be ashamed when she has a blood stain on her pants and chastises the men around her for their embarrassment over something as normal as a period.

Violence

There's a lot of blood spilled and dead bodies in the battles and skirmishes here. Injuries too, but they can be magically healed -- a lopped off arm even grows back in one case. Gory details include a head chopped off and thunking on the sand, swords ripped across throats, skin that peels back and melts away, and a man tortured as he's killed, his bones broken one by one. Men are also dragged into the ocean and drowned, and a giant sea creature stabs with his poisonous barbed tentacles. A girl remembers training to execute prisoners from a young age. Mentions of murders and of tortured animals.

Sex

Kissing, groping, and some undressing that almost leads to sex, stopped because one of them is drunk on rum. Prostitutes are bid on in a tavern and head off with the highest bidder, one by one.

Language

"Damned whore" said once.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Amora turns 18 at the beginning of the story. She drinks often -- wine, ale and rum. A man gets drunk on rum. Tavern scenes with drinking and cigar smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All the Stars and Teeth is the first book in a duology by debut author Adalyn Grace. With a princess trained to kill with her magic, you know things will get bloody. Gory details include a head chopped off and thunking on the sand, swords ripped across throats, skin that peels back and melts away, and a man tortured as he's killed, his bones broken one by one. There are plenty of injuries from battles and skirmishes too, but they can be magically healed -- a lopped off arm even grows back in one case. There's some heavy drinking here, too. Princess Amora, 18, has wine, ale, and rum. After some groping, kissing, and clothing removal, she resists further advances of a love interest because he's too drunk on rum. Overall, Amora finds her duty to her kingdom the most important thing, even when her perspective of her role changes. She'll do anything to make things right for her people.

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What's the story?

In ALL THE STARS AND TEETH, Princess Amora's 18th birthday is finally here. She's ready to show her kingdom that she has control of her special branch of soul magic that only the royal Montara line can wield and claim her place as the next High Animancer after her father. She parades around in her terrifying bone crown and epaulettes and they bring out a murderer for her to kill. She's confident and proud of her skill and ready to show it off until she looks around at all the horrified faces in the crowd. Her confidence and concentration flag and she loses control of her magic and tortures the prisoner without mercy or any understanding of what she's done. Amora is immediately deemed dangerous and locked up, sure that she will be executed shortly. She's desperate for some way out when a mysterious sailor breaks into the prison and breaks her out. He has news for her about her kingdom. There's a serious threat from a far off island that her father the king hid from her, and the sailor needs her magical help to fight against it.

Is it any good?

For any fantasy fan who loves magical kingdoms, powerful princesses and mermaids, sea voyages, and sea monsters, this tale will draw you in, even if it still needs some storytelling polish. All the Stars and Teeth could have been set up more cleanly, the magic explained more clearly, and the reveal of what the magic really means to the islands done without an abrupt plunge into a complex flashback (all while the bad guy waits around for her outside a cave, probably bored). But there are moments of greatness here, too.

Amora's jilted fiance, Ferrick, and the mermaid Vataea are both fascinating characters with cool magic who add as much to the story as Amora's mysterious love interest, Bastian. Vataea's magic is the most useful on the sea adventure, and the quest to save her from imprisonment on an island full of wealth and vice is one of the more entertaining parts of the book. Things get more serious than adventurous when Bastian is forced to face his past and Amora awakens to what her magic really means. Both help build toward an exciting finale.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Amora's magic in All the Stars and Teeth. Who is she trained to use it on? Is she always convinced that her magic is a benefit to society?

  • How does Amora's father he let her down? Why is it sometimes harder to forgive our idols for things they do wrong? How does Amora find some forgiveness?

  • Will you read the next book in the duology? What do you think will happen to Amora? To the islands and their magic?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy and magid

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