Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: eBook, 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Rating: 4 out 5 stars
Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.
But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.
Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.
THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.
Maya is a princess of Bharata, cursed by the stars to bear an unfortunate horoscope that follows her everywhere and decides her fate. Feared by her father’s court, Maya is under constant torment and animosity from the Raja’s wives and her half-siblings. She is unsettled by others’ treatment, but content with never having to marry, instead spending her days in studies. Until, one day, her father makes the decision to marry her off in order to avoid full-out war. Maya complies, knowing she has no other choice, but the ceremony takes on a fatal turn. One of her suitors stops offers Maya an escape and promises to make her queen. Maya accepts and the stranger, Amar, pulls her on a journey through places that should have been real only in tales. Amar’s kingdom, the place between the human real and the Otherworld, holds as many dangers as it does wonders. After Maya falls for one of those dangers, her actions lead to disastrous consequences, which she must journey through the realms in order to fix.
The Star-Touched Queen is one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I have been waiting for its release for longer than I first found out about this release, wishing we had a fantasy novel inspired by Indian mythology for the longest of time. It’s not hard to image the thrill I felt when I discovered about the pending publication. The anticipation grew even larger when the first reviews popped up and promised far more than what I was expecting. I felt more restless by the minute.
When the day finally came, I dropped everything to begin reading. I was that excited. But also nervous that my expectations were too high and what if the book won’t be able to meet them? Turns out there was no need to worry. The Star-Touched Queen as every bit as magical as it looks.
Roshani Chokshi’s prose is a form of magic all on its own. She weaves words like one would weave silk, making something beautiful and flowing effortlessly. I was entranced from the very first page, up until the last one. Very rarely am I this affected by an author’s writing style, especially right from the get-to, but Ms. Chokshi ensnared me with no effort. Her narrative is the perfect blend of melody, metaphors and gorgeous imagery, which puts The Star-Touched Queen right up there as my favourite pieces of writing, along with Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Trilogy and Reneé Ahdieh’s The Wrath and The Dawn.
The world is big and heavy, complex as any fantasy world ought to be. There are countless layers that the reader must discover and their reveal is made gradual, as natural as one might discover a new city by looking at its sights, rather than getting all the history and customs dumped as if reading a paper guide. Because of the layered complexity, The Star-Touched Queen might feel a bit too heavy at first for some, but I personally had no trouble keeping up. The selectivity with which Chokshi unfolds her world made me that much more eager to keep reading. I easily fell in love with every place Maya visited, with the thing she saw, which are described in the most intricate designs. Roshani Chokshi is an architect, skillfully laying the skeleton of her story, building its facade up and embellishing it with the most gorgeous details.
Nothing about this book is simple, and that applies for the characters as well. Each one of them was a map of characteristics, or perhaps a funnel that expands the farther you venture in. Maya is a worthy main character and I am glad I got to explore the inner depths of her mind, because she is probably the most layered of all the characters in this book. With her inner conflicts and struggles to trust not only those around her but herself as well, Maya feels realistic and relatable. One cannot help but empathize with her, and even seen part of themselves within her. Not many fictional characters are well-rounded enough to even somewhat resemble real beings, but there are few that break through those restrictions. Maya is definitely one those characters.
I have a small issue with how the romance played out, as it was a tad too sudden for me. As a huge fan of slow-burn, it irked me how quickly Maya gave into feeling love for Amar, but at the same time, it was not too illogical, given what we learn about her later on. Still, I would have liked to see a little bit more conflict within Maya, especially after she learns the truth. Nevertheless, Amar is the perfect fit to my love interest requirements and I guess I can’t really blame Maya for falling as fast as she did since he got me hooked pretty fast as well.
Another thing is the plot felt too even for me in the second part. I expected something on a bigger scale from the ending and it fell a bit flat, but perhaps I can account my incredibly high expectations for that. That being said, I am quite satisfied with how it all went down. It is a fitting ending for both Maya and the book. I do wish we got an epilogue for this, but that’s only because I didn’t really want to let go of the characters and the world, much like with Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Kiss. But an epilogue is truly not needed, as the end is impactful all on its own.
In conclusion, The Star-Touched Queen is as good as you’ve heard. Ms. Chokshi slays with her debut, offering us a piece of magic with her writing. I am eternally grateful she wrote this story the way she did and allowing us to enter this enchanting world filled with even more enchanting creatures. With just one book, she became one of my auto-read authors as I will inhale anything she produces, no matter it’s a single sentence or a whole series.