A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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"Damned whore" said once.
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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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.