The Star-Touched Queen
By Roshani Chokshi
Average Rating: 3.61
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
POV: Third Person Limited (Maya)
Cover Love: A+++++++
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.
This novel started at turtle pace, which didn’t give me much hope that it would be good, but the novel kept getting better and better!! Then, it kinda went flop at the end. It redeemed most of its bland beginning but I do find that the novel had a hard time balancing between lots of action and slow, dull moments of nothingness.
The novel delves in a culture I had no idea about, and although the imagery was great, and I absorbed the strong atmosphere coming from the book, I found it extremely hard to understand the vocabulary and the meaning behind many objects, events and ideas. I felt like there was lots of symbolism I was missing and it really makes me sad that I couldn’t love the book as much as I could because of this cultural barrier. Every page, I would come across words, and would have no clue what they meant. I was hoping that they would be explained later in the novel, but to my dismay they weren’t. Keep in mind, I did try to connect the dots as best as I could through the writing, but I would have liked a clearer picture. A glossary of words would have been beneficial in my reading experience. This wasn’t a huge deal for me because I absolutely loved the diversity this novel exhibits, but it was something I wanted to mention.
Maya is an omen. Her grave horoscope made her a target and the black sheep among her sisters and her father’s many wives. Chokshi did a wonderful job expressing Maya’s life within the harem and the judgement she faced. I was immediately drawn to Maya as a character and her stubborn values. I would describe her character as very private, yet curious. She is underestimated a lot and this novel showed how far Maya can go as a ruler, as a wife, as a sister, and as a woman. In the novel, at the time when she depended on her father the most, he turns her back on her in the worst ways. It really tugged at the heart strings. I also admire the love Maya had for her younger sister, Gauri. This kindness and compassion for her sister showed how much of an underdog Maya really is.
Father once said the real language of diplomacy was in the space between words. He said silence was key to politics.
Silence, I learned, was also the key to spying.
Maya has had some painful experiences, and her confidence took the brunt of it. I find it fitting that she hides in the shadows and is a great “spy”. I love the irony played in the novel too, because that actually became her downfall and made her do things that I want to kick her for. Especially for some of the stupid decisions she makes. The frustrations were high when I wasn’t getting the HEA I wanted for Maya, and she was the one who was preventing it. I enjoyed her character development for this very reason.
Amar is a charming mysterious ruler that I found was the perfect balance between sweet and secretive. He’s perfect for Maya as a partner because he sees the potential of strength and power in her that no one ever saw in her, save for the Raja and her younger sister, Gauri. But he was secretive with a capital “S”!! The story did give a good reason about why he needed to keep information from Maya, which didn’t really work out because she ended up ruining him. I only wished that I got more of a backstory for him, or maybe a chapter in his POV.
I’d say this story is a great new take on the infamous Underworld setting, where Amar is the ruler of Akaran and Maya is his queen. Because of the culture I mentioned before, the world-building in The Star-Touched Queen was phenomenal and the descriptions were very clear so the development of each piece of the Akaran was so perfectly placed. Further, the fantasy aspect and the blend of mythology was very entertaining and satisfying to read. I’ve never read a book where the world seemed so magical that it seemed untouchable. By untouchable, I mean that I wouldn’t be able to find another world like it. It seemed so one-of-a-kind and that no other author could recreate it. Only Roshani Chokshi could write a world as beautiful as Akaran.
I had some problems with plot. When I realized the sequel wasn’t a continuation of Maya’s story I was devastated. DEVASTATED. The solution to the conflict was waay too simple for me. Because of that, I felt the ending was rushed and wasn’t as thought out as it could’ve been. I would have really like for Maya to fail at getting Amar back before actually defeating Nritti, this nymph that tricked Maya into believing Amar was unfaithful, and getting her life back with Amar. Call me a sadistic reader, but I wanted my beloved Maya to go through some rough patches before getting her HEA.
His voice wrapped around me, lustrous and dark. It was the kind of voice that could soothe you to sleep in the same moment that it slit your throat. Still, I leaned toward it.
That being said the ending was very open-ended. I didn’t like that. In this case, I wanted a 100% certainty of these characters’ happy endings. I had so many questions!! I wanted a definite answer about the fate of Akaran and Maya and Amar’s relationship written in stone. I’m demanding an epilogue so I get their fates written on paper. All in the name of closure, people!!
The Star-Touched Queen is a fascinating novel that really allows Indian culture to shine. I’m amazed by the imagery and talent from this debut. I hope the sequel raises above and beyond this, and that we will see more growth in Chokshi’s writing and ability to tell a story.
Keep calm and just keep reading,