The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Published December 2016 by Harlequin Teen
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: 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.
The Star-Touched Queen is Roshani Chokshi's debut novel, inspired my Indian mythology. Seventeen year old Maya lives in the kingdom of Bharata. She is the Raja's daughter, but she is shunned by the harem. There are rumours that she's cursed, that she brings death wherever she goes. Her father asks her to marry to end the war, but when that plan is foiled Maya finds herself in a whole realm she never knew was real.
I was really intrigued by the premise of The Star-Touched Queen and instantly found the writing beautiful and the world vividly described. Maya seemed distant as a character, there's not a lot of time to get to know her before the action begins, though it was easy to see she was lonely and longed for more.
It wasn't long before the story became quite repetitive and I found it just wasn't holding my attention. In the palace of Akaran, Maya spends a lot of her time roaming the hallways, depicted in multiple descriptions of mirrors and doors. Because of this, her daily life became quite a chore to read about. I'm sure the intention was to convey how Maya herself would have felt living in such a restricted way but it didn't make for entertaining reading.
The writing, while beautiful, also became repetitive. Everything was overly described with some words used far too often, for example their hair was always mussed. Wading through paragraphs of details became tiring.
The last third of the story really lost me. I don't know if it's because I was reading an ARC but scenes seemed to shift with no connection between them. I found myself confused by some scenes which then turned out to be memories or possible memories. It's always hard when a character has no clue what's going on - a plot device that this sort of retelling relies on heavily. It means the reader feels just as lost and confused as the main character, and I certainly felt that way for a lot of this story. It was frustrating to know Maya was making the wrong decisions simply because she couldn't be patient and heed the warnings.
I ended up skimming the last 100 pages. So, on the whole, this wasn't my cup of tea, and reviews online certainly seem to be split between utter love and similar opinions to mine. It's definitely worth giving it a go because you might fall into the former category.
Ableist language: fool, dumb, insane, mania.
Thank you to Harlequin Teen for the ARC.
Cover design: Danielle Christoper
This is a really beautiful cover and I couldn't resist turning it into a manicure. I started with a base of black nail polish. I sponged on white polish, followed by Savvy UFO. I dotted the stars using Barry M Blue Moon and sponged on some glitter using Orly Shine on Diamond. For the fiery sky I sponged on white polish followed by Zoya Creamy, Zoya Maura, and Orly Ablaze. I used Orly Purple Crush for Maya's sari. I used acrylic paint for the city.