Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: YA fantasy
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 don’t usually read Indian myth retellings (especially since most of them are based off the epic ones which I’ve heard/seen/read several times). But this one was different. I don’t know this story, although it totally sounds like an Indian myth, and it was very interesting to read.
Mayavati has a terrible horoscope, it says that she’s partnered with death. Due to this and the huge belief in horoscope in society, she’s scorned for life. We also read a lot about Indian kingdoms, the harem, families and workings.
Soon, through a complicated issue, we meet Amar. They’re married instantly, but that’s how things work in Indian myths. Amar is a perfect guy to be in love with, but he has his secrets too.
The kingdom of Akaran has secrets, whispers, hidden doors, riddles and so much history and future. There’s so much of magic and fantasy elements. For a part there, I honestly felt like a kid again, reading another Indian myth.
The one thing I liked was how Amar believed in modern concepts such as gender equality. The change for her, coming from a kingdom where women’s opinions are disregarded like an insect, to becoming Amar’s wife and Queen and having decision rights. There is such difference in her life that one day cleanly split her life into two.
…thinking back to the moment where I had stood with poison against my pal, where I had owned nothing, been nothing and almost… was nothing.
Maya is a smart, curious and strong-willed girl. She has her priorities and thoughts figured out! I loved that her dark skin was portrayed as such beauty, that she wasn’t a dumb doormat and that she loved with all her heart. The way she loves her sister Gauri is the way I want someone to love me.
There’s also this thing in the book: In Bharata, no one believed in ghosts because the dead never lingered. She constantly thinks “I am not a ghost. I am here.”because of the way she is treated, which made me very sad.
Amar was the picture-perfect male lead for this book. He was just right and I think the author made an amazing job of him.
Being an Indian story, I had a small expectation that there wouldn’t be much of actual romance details. Usually, most of it is just situations and marriages and out of nowhere, “they’re obviously in love, why should they say it and kiss”. Maybe it’s just me who feels that.
I’m glad that there wasn’t insta-love, there was none of the “I trust you with my life” right from the beginning. Maya took her time starting to love him. In the beginning, Amar felt kinda like a creep to me, the way he was already totally in love with her. But in the end, it makes sense.
I’ve been ecstatic to write this section ever since I started reading the book.
Let me finish with one small thing: I loved reading all the Indian terms in the book. Why don’t I read more Indian books, I don’t know.
Now, to the main point.
Roshani Chokshi writes beautifully. Her writing is almost literally poetry. *I’m going to insert a LOT of quotes, so beware*
I thought my soul was leaning toward the stone, wishing desperately to cling to a truth, a beacon that could guide me back to myself. That raw tenderness. That kiss that said goodbye, come back, and I love you all at once.
I don’t usually like big descriptions but when phrased like this, I’m game.
My surroundings slid. away, and all that was left was fire licking at the earth, the edge of a winter eclipse, stars whirling in a forest pool and the pulsing beat of something ancient running through my veins.
When I came across these lines while reading, I was almost pouring out love from my heart for them ❤
I loved him with two loves. One, a relic of another era. Another, unformed and hot, a freshly wrought star. All enigma and song.
It wasn’t a can’t-put-down book for me, but it was great! I can’t wait to read more books from the author.