While All the Stars and Teeth isn’t groundbreaking, it’s an entertaining read if you’re a fan of pirates, mermaids, or magic with a darker edge.
The story follows Amora, princess of Visidia, as she goes on the run after a disastrous attempt to prove her mastery over her family’s dangerous soul magic and the curse it carries. She finds an unexpected ally in Bastian, a pirate with a mysterious past who needs her help to regain his own stolen magic, and the two set sail on a journey across the kingdom, picking up some unexpected allies along the way and opening Amora’s eyes to the troubles threatening to tear her people apart and the truth of her family’s history.
Pacing-wise, the story has plenty of action beats that keep things moving quickly, and while I was wary (and a little weary) at the beginning of the “everyone is sorted and lives according to their powers/personality” trope, Grace actually works to subvert it, calling the idea into question as part of the major plot, which was a nice surprise.
As far as the romance goes, I’m more interested in seeing the spark between two supporting characters developed than in the relationship between the two leads. It’s not that the lead romance isn’t likable, it was just telegraphed really early on and developed fairly easily, so there was never any real tension, even with a presumed fiancé in the way. There were actually several plot developments that, while not necessarily telegraphed, were certainly foreshadowed with a heavy hand. A slower-paced book might have suffered for this, but All the Stars and Teeth moves just fast enough that you don’t mind knowing what’s probably around the corner, since you’re about to get to it anyway, rather than suffering through hours of build-up for little pay-off.
All in all, I give it three stars, and I will be picking up book two to see how this duology ends.