The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin- Macmillan
Ominously paired with a horoscope dooming her to a marriage of death and destruction, Maya has had little hope of finding love and happiness. When her father asks her to accept a marriage of political advantage, her ceremony takes a deadly turn and she finds herself the new wife of the Raja of Akaran and its Queen. Neither duties are what she expects as Maya finds herself entwined in a secret that spans lifetimes.
Sometimes books come into your life and completely alter the way you view a certain genre. This reaction, whether positive or negative, will never leave you. The Star-Touched Queen is an absolutely magical, vivid fantasy that reminds me why fantasy is such a powerful genre. While the reader understands that the novel’s landscape is completely made up, the author adds such depth and emotion to the story that it seems utterly real. The images explode in your mind’s eye like fireworks and the protagonist’s quest for identity and self-understanding resonates closely with your own. Author Roshani Chokshi has incredible talent for describing ethereal concepts and images. Her combination of Indian and Greek mythology with the rich cultural heritage of India is absolutely brilliant. This was one of my most anticipated novels of 2016 and it superseded ALL of my expectations.
Star-Touched opens on our heroine, Maya (Princess Mayavati), gazing out her window at the stars above her. Her heart longs to be among their brilliant beauty and have their all-knowing power. She both admires and despises the stars, for they have cursed her to a life of solitude and ridicule; her horoscope promised her a marriage of Death and Destruction and no suitor will come near her. Her own family holds her at arms length, and that’s if they’re being kind. Instead, she’s turned to scholarly pursuits and telling fairy tales to her half-sister, Gauri. I found myself drawn to Maya on such a deep level. Her loneliness practically radiates off of the page, but the moments she shares with Gauri are so beautiful.
When the Raja of Akaran, Amar, shows up, I found his character utterly dark and mysterious. He wears a hood that covers most of his face, dramatically adding to the enigma of who he is and where he comes from. He is Maya’s key to a whole new world as he leads Maya through places that she only imagined in her dreams. The turbulent romance that sparks between Maya and Amar was one of my favorite character experiences in the novel. I typically have trouble embracing romance in a novel because it usually seems superficial, but that is not the case with Amar and Maya. Chokshi reveals details piece by piece as Maya attempts to uncover the mysteries of her new husband. It was perfect!
All in all, what solidified my awe of The Star-Touched Queen was the world building. We get to walk through lush gardens with the most exotic of flora and fauna, we experience gems that hang from trees and can be eaten like ripe fruit, there’s a room with a tree of memories housed in tiny glass cases, and a garden made entirely of filigree crystal. I could go on and on! Each page promises another detail of this rich and captivating world and I could not put this book down.
But fear not, this novel is not all roses and daisies. Maya soon finds herself face to face with a villain that has the power to unravel everything, including her own life. Forced to chose between two unknowns, Maya realizes that she has found herself right in the middle of a deep, dark secret that can only be revealed with the new moon. While at first this novel seems like a romance, it is also a stunning tale of identity, hope, and realizing your dreams. Maya has to straddle the fine line between two worlds to discover who she truly is.
You know nothing about me.
I know your soul. Everything else is an ornament.