Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 26, 2016
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.
All book reviews I write are spoiler-free!
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Star-Touched Queen is a book that’s been recently buzzing in the book community. The majority of ARC reviews were glowing, and the synopsis has such unique concepts. Once the release day approached, I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough.
I started reading this as soon as I could. I really enjoyed the writing style and exposure to Indian mythology, but unfortunately other parts of the book fell flat for me. Some parts of the book that didn’t appeal to me as much were the prevalence of tropes, confusing explanations, and an eye-rolling romance.
The Writing Sucked Me In
This book is filled with lyrical writing that has vivid imagery with deep meanings. There’s a storytelling feel throughout that’s immersive and comforting. You know how some books have intentionally vague descriptions so that readers can create their own scenery themselves? Well, this book instead gives detailed illustrations that appeals to all of your senses.
Both being vague and being detailed are great in their own rights, but I think this type of story is better detailed because of the unfamiliarity most readers would have with some concepts. Right from the beginning of the book, I felt like I was in a new world, and what a beautifully described world that was. That being said, the depth of descriptions was sometimes too much – there were times when descriptions would either have too much flourish to fully grasp, or even contradict previous sentences.
There are unique and interesting concepts in the premise, some of which that aren’t found in the typical young adult novel. The book is based on Indian culture and mythology. The Indian culture aspects of the book include harems, arranged marriages, and women being greatly inferior to men. Of course, the protagonist, Maya, tries to fight the last of those. Indian mythology aspects include horoscopes, riddles, and talking animals. I learned so much Indian folklore by reading this book, and I really loved that.
Another reason I became immersed in the story was because I grew to become very fond of a few of the minor characters. I really enjoyed reading about the non-romantic relationships throughout the book because they were built very well and tied together seamlessly. I’d love to see where the secondary characters’ individual stories go after this book.
One Trope Here, Another Trope There…
Although the overall concept of the book is unique, I didn’t find many other aspects of the book particularly refreshing. Maya is what is known in the young adult fiction community as a “special snowflake”. She has this horoscope that ostracizes her and makes people scared of her, although she acts like any other typical teenage girl would in her situation. I found some of Maya’s decisions to be too rash and not thought out well. However, she did have good character development over the course of the book, which I appreciated. I found myself liking her more at the end of the book, but I still couldn’t completely click with her.
In addition to the protagonists, I just didn’t get the romance. Initially, I couldn’t see why the male protagonist pursued Maya for any other reason than her being “special”. While it was explained later in the book, I didn’t feel a bond with the main characters to really care what was happening to them much. Even with later explanations for why the main male character pursued Maya, there were definitely still marks of insta-love. I suppose when I encounter anything resembling love at first sight, my tolerance dissipates – I therefore didn’t enjoy the romance, which was a large portion of the book.
That being said, I know that a lot of people would enjoy the romance. There were cute scenes that I know I would’ve been absolutely fangirling over if I liked the couple. The love in this book was the kind that I would daydream about when I was younger. However, now that I prefer romance that’s more slow building and realistic, I didn’t find the romance in this book appealing.
I Wish I Enjoyed It More
I wanted to love this book so badly, and I was very excited to read it. I even pre-ordered it, and I very rarely pre-order books. I loved the beginning of the book, but then my enjoyment passed after a certain point. When the book started going downhill on me, I wanted to skim it, but I did my best to go through it slowly to appreciate the writing and to convince myself to enjoy it. However, I couldn’t find myself giving it more than three stars after I finished it. In addition to the tropes that I mentioned, I was also left with a sense of confusion of how some fantasy portions of the book work. Perhaps I wasn’t fully paying attention at a few points, but I’m fairly certain that descriptions on some fantasy technicalities were scattered and not explained properly.
This book was written as a standalone, so the story ties together and there’s no cliffhanger. The author is in the process of writing a companion novel, so readers who enjoy this book will be able to stay immersed in this world. I’ll definitely be more wary of the next book – however, I love Chokshi’s writing style, so I’m crossing my fingers that the next book will appeal to me more. I’ll probably pick it up, especially since it’s going to focus on a minor character in this book that I actually really bonded with.
I would recommend this book to people who are okay with reading about a special snowflake and insta-love for the benefits of beautiful writing and a vivid world. Overall, I would say this book was reminiscent of a more complex Disney fairy tale. I know that this book would appeal to a lot of people – it just happened to have tropes that I have low tolerance for. If I went back a few years to my high school self who didn’t mind things like insta-love, then this book would easily be one of my favorites of the year.
If you’ve read this book, let me know your thoughts! If you haven’t picked this up yet, feel free to ask any questions you might have about it!