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.
I received this book for free via a Giveaway. This in no way affects my opinion.
Okay, before we get into anything can we just stop for a minute and appreciate the pure beauty of this cover. Just look at it. The colours, the font, the design. It’s so visually stunning. I am so happy that it is on my shelf.
Brace yourselves for some more lowkey, small unpopular opinions. When did I become so controversial ~~~ 🙊? This is nowhere near as negative as my ACOTAR review, but I just wanted to put it out there! Anyway, this entire review is spoiler free. Except for a couple of hidden lines.
Told in two parts, The Star Touched-Queen is a retelling of Savitri and Satyavan and Hades and Persephone that brings in elements of Indian mythology/folklore and Greek mythology. Maya lives in a world where horoscopes are everything.Unfortunately, she was born under a cursed sign and is said to be “partnered with death” and that her marriage will cause “death and destruction”. Her father, the Raja, decides the best thing for his Kingdom is to marry Maya off in hopes of holding off an upcoming war. Maya realises there is more to this wedding than her father implies and she rebels against what he wants and decides to marry a man who claims to be the Raja of Akaran. She has to learn who she can or can’t trust (including herself) as she discovers that Akaran and Amar are hiding many secrets.
I only discovered The Star-Touched Queen just before I started blogging. I saw it on Netgalley and didn’t bother requesting it because I didn’t know if anything was going to come of my intent to get back into reading. However, as I started getting back into the loop of the book world and I learnt that it was written by a WoC and featured PoC characters and a mixture of different mythology – not just Greek – I was extremely interested. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to sending a request there were no copies available. Then to make things worse I found out there was no Australian ebook release and the only option was a $27AUD hardback edition on Book Depository, which was out of my price range so I just accepted I wouldn’t be reading it anytime soon. Funnily enough, fate decide to help me out and I won it in a giveaway. I was so excited to read this because the book community was raving about it, but I’m really sad to say that whilst I did enjoy this – I didn’t absolutely love it until the last 50 or so pages.
Roshani Chokshi’s writing style is absolutely beautiful. No lie, this is honestly some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. I can not believe that this is a debut novel. The writing was lyrical, whimsical, utterly captivating and I found myself completely lost in it. I wanted to drown in the words and live in the pages. I will say now that if you don’t like writing that’s over-descriptive and full of poetic metaphors then you’ll probably want to hit your head against the wall reading this. That style happens to be my absolute favourite. I found it breathtakingly gorgeous. The only thing is sometimes I found myself too lost in the writing. I was confused for a far chunk of this book. Admittedly, I still don’t know what happened in some parts. That could just be me though.
“Staring at the sky in Bharata was like exchanging a secret. It felt private, like I had peered through the veil of a hundred worlds. When I looked up, I could imagine – for a moment – what the sky hid from everyone else. I could see where the winds yawned with silver lips and curled themselves to sleep. I could glimpse the moon folding herself into crescents and half-smiles. When I looked up, I could imagine an existence as vast as the sky. Just as infinite. Just as unknown.”
The writing style really helped the world that was created come alive. We aren’t given much backstory on it, but in a way I like that. It almost added an element of magical realism to the story. The vivid descriptions were honestly more than enough for me to be able to picture this world. When I was reading this book it felt like I was actually there. The Otherworld pulled me in and I never wanted to leave. The Night Bazaar was so eerily beautiful.
I loved the way Indian and Greek mythology was woven together. It felt so magical. I loved the whole idea of the tapestry and fates. It was so interesting and I learnt so much from reading this book. Mythology can be an overwhelming topic if you’re new to it and I now feel like I have a gateway and starting point to research more.
I was really enjoying the start of the book. Maya is extremely determined and not willing to let everyone’s hatred or fear towards her break her. She holds her head up high and stands up to the other women in the Harem who treat her awfully. She takes advantage of no one wanting to be around her to spy on the Raja’s meetings. Maya wants the impossible and it was really inspiring. I was so excited to see this story of female empowerment unfold, but that’s kind of where it ended until the last part of the book.
“Why did they always start with history? Show me a dream unrealised. Don’t show me unchangeable paths.”
The romance in this book is so nauseatingly instalove-y. The moment Maya meets Amar there’s a “charged moment”. I do realise there’s the whole reincarnation and past lives thing, but I would have liked to have seen more build up. It was a serious case of told but not seen. I didn’t even feel any chemistry between Maya and Amar whatsoever. I know a lot of people’s favourite part of this book was the romance, but I did not care for it one little bit. Yeah, Amar said some really poetic and “swoon worthy” words to Maya, but I didn’t feel it or believe it. I don’t know, maybe I just don’t have a heart. To me it seemed like Maya stopped doing everything for herself and did it for Amar instead. I know he kept saying she was his equal ect. but I just didn’t like the sudden shift. The only redeeming quality of this romance is that Amar was actually a pretty decent guy. I would have liked to see Maya actually be a queen instead of just having the title.
The end of the first part was so incredibly slow. I felt like absolutely nothing had happened until a possible twist was brought into play. For the first time I felt like Maya was herself again, not the subdued character she’d been reduced to since she married Amar. I was genuinely excited and then much to my utter dismay it went in an extremely predictable direction and I was left feeling disappointed. <spoiler>Honestly this book would have received a billion stars from me if Amar really was trying to kill Maya and she fought back with help from Nritti and reclaimed her fate. The princess destroying the king? With help from her best female friend from her past life? Sign me the heck up.</spoiler>
Everything definitely picked up in the second half. Even though I would have preferred events to be different I really like that Maya acknowledges her mistakes. She felt like a much stronger character even if Amar was her main priority. The second half was a lot more fast paced, but this also resulted in an information overload. I understand and appreciate that this is a standalone (to a degree anyway, there’s going to be a companion novel, but more on that later) so it’s not like things could be built over several books. It was just A LOT to take in.
One thing I absolutely cherished about this book, despite its flaws, was Maya’s relationship with her sister Gauri. It was so wonderful and refreshing. It’s rare that we see sibling relationships in books never alone such positive ones. I really wish there was more scenes with the two of them because one in particular made me tear up. I loved how much they cared about each and wanted to keep the other safe, but with that were never willing to hold the other one back. Gauri was actually so interesting and I almost wished I could follow her journey instead. I’m hoping the companion that Roshani has planned centers around her. Another brilliant aspect in this book was the bond that Maya develops with a horse named Kamala who becomes her companion in her journey to save Amar. I won’t say too much about it because there’s some really hilarious lines of dialogue and it was interesting learning what exactly Kamala is. For a good solid portion of the book Kamala was actually my favourite character. <spoiler>I just wish she was able to eat Maya and Amar’s instalove.</spoiler>
I can’t talk too much about the villain of the story without spoiling everything, but I did find her really interesting. I’m just sad that Maya didn’t have more positive female friendships beside Gauri. And Kamala, I guess.
Like I mentioned about the ending of this book is when my “slightly enjoyable” feelings turned into “loved”. Maya became someone who was willing to fight for herself again and she took her destiny into her own hands and reclaimed her fate. She accepted all parts of herself, her flaws and weakness, whilst also acknowledging that she was brave and a forced to be reckoned with.
“I am a frightened girl, a roaring river and night incarnate.”
I was debating for hours what to rate this. I felt like the writing style was way too superior for 3 stars, but only truly loving the last 50 pages wasn’t really worthy of 4 stars. If I used half ratings this would be a 3.5, but since I don’t I eventually decided on 4 because of the writing style, Maya’s relationship with Gauri, the mythology and Kamala. If one of those elements didn’t exist I definitely would have only given this 3 stars.
I had my issues with this book, but overall I’d still reccomend you read it. I didn’t have a negative experience reading this, I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. It’s not entirely Roshani’s fault. I guess I was just expecting something a little different. The writing is beautiful, the mythology is magical and if you’re a fan of star-crossed romances (and don’t mind some Instalove) then you will absolutely love this!