Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 26th 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.
A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
Maya has been haunted her whole life by her horoscope, which foretells a marriage of Death and Destruction, because of it she is seen as cursed by the harem wives and her half-brothers and sisters, and she is avoided and feared by her father’s people. She uses her curse to make her tutors flee and hides in the rafters to listen to her father’s council meetings. It is there that she overhears his plans to marry her off to control the brewing rebellion which is taking the lives of the soldiers the Raja sends to fight.
Also assuming her horoscope would keep her from being married off Maya soon finds herself with no other choice but to pick one of the rebellious Raja’s to marry. However when the day dawns an attack by the rebel leaders has been planned and Maya, faced with either death or the man who claims he can save her, picks Amar. She chooses him and marries him and he whisks her from the fight, from her father’s castle, to his kingdom, Akaran.
Akaran is a place of magic, a place Maya believed only existed in the stories she told her younger sister. Now she is it’s queen she spends her days wondering the halls, discovering everything her new home has to offer hidden behind the doors of all shapes and sizes which line the halls. She walks through a garden made of glass and uncovers rooms full of stars, snowdrifts floating upside down, and eggs painted with all kinds of exotic birds. However there are still things she doesn’t know about her new kingdom, things her husband is keeping from her until the new moon where he will reveal everything.
Maya isn’t content to wait, not when she hears someone whispering to her in the middle of the night, not when she sees secret doors which disappear as soon as she turns towards them, not when she overhears of a mysterious ‘she’ whom Amar whispers about. Soon Maya is faced with a choice between a husband who hides secrets from her and an old friend who seems to only have her best interests at heart, and the wrong choice could spell the Destruction foretold in her horoscope.
Maya has learnt to live with the curse her horoscope shadows her with, she holds her head high and uses people’s perceptions of her against them. She doesn’t want to marry, but she has no choice and believes choosing a Raja will help end the war that plagues her people. Maya is an incredibly strong and brave character. She makes hard choices even before she chooses Amar but she doesn’t make them recklessly. She knows what she wants and she goes through with it to protect not only the people she loves but the people she feels responsible for as a princess and later a queen.
In Akaran Maya doesn’t trust her husband straight away, without knowing him and his kingdom she cannot trust him but she respects his wishes to wait until the new moon to tell her the truth about everything. Until she grows weary of the secrets. There are voices whispering to her, telling her something different about her husband. Maya can’t help but wonder what the truth really is and what kingdom she has been brought to. Once again Maya is forced to make some hard choices but she doesn’t make them lightly.
Amar is a enigmatic character, without telling Maya the truth about who he is and about his kingdom it is hard to truly know him. However he gives Maya everything he can. He shows her all his world can offer; the Night Bazaar, all the rooms in his home which offer such wondrous things. Amar is a kind man but more than that he is a perfect fit for Maya. He is a strong ruler and pushes Maya to become the same. He sees the potential she keeps hidden and tries to help her embrace it instead of hiding behind it.
There are so many things Amar keeps from Maya, things he can’t reveal until the new moon, which seems to weaken their relationship slightly. Amar needs Maya to trust him but she can’t fully until she knows the secrets he keeps from her. However Maya feelings for him still grow in spite of not truly knowing him. Amar treats her as a true queen and not like one of the women her father kept in his harem, he gives her the stars to wear in her hair. The relationship between them is an incredibly strong one; Amar wants everything from Maya, her love, her trust. He wants her to rule besides him forever and he pushes her to trust in her own judgments, her own strength, her own power. In her father’s court Maya is a princess, one of many, but in Amar’s home she starts to become a queen, the only one capable of ruling besides Amar.
The main thing which drew me to this book first of all was the setting; described as ‘a lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology’ The Star-Touched Queen sounded like the kind of book I’d love. Luckily while reading it I discovered the world-building was even better than I could have hoped. Maya’s life in her father’s court is filled with her stories of worlds and places far far away, but when she flees with Amar through the Night Bazaar to Akaran she finally sees all the things she’s only ever read about. The Night Bazaar is a place filled with magic and wonder, colour and life, a place where you can buy dreams, nightmares and love charms. Once in Akaran there is a world behind every door, a portal behind every mirror.
There was something about the setting for The Star-Touched Queen that reminded me of The Night Circus. The two stories are not similar in any other way but while reading The Night Circus I couldn’t wait to see what wonders were hidden inside each of the circus tents. It was the same in The Star-Touched Queen, as Maya explored her kingdom and encountered so many magical wonders behind each door I couldn’t wait to see what she discovered next.
The Star-Touched Queen was one of my most anticipated releases for this year, reading it this book was so much better than I ever thought it could be. The writing and world-building was beautifully done and the whole story had such a magical and lyrical feel to it that honestly I never wanted this book to end, but at the same time I couldn’t put it down.
What did you think of The Star-Touched Queen? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.