Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen - Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, 2016 (Hardcover)
Length: 342 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: December 12, 2016
Finished: December 17, 2016

From the inside cover:

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. While Maya is 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 seeped in Indian folklore and mythology, The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

I had picked this up once before earlier in the year and didn't have a chance to read it due to work being insane at the time. Thankfully I did pick it up again or else I would've missed an incredibly gorgeous novel.

Mayavati is the daughter of the Raja of Bharata, and unfortunately for her, she was born with a horrifying horoscope in a place that is very superstitious. Shunned at worst and tolerated at best, Maya spends her days spying on the politics of court sessions that the harem wives or other daughters would never be allowed to see. When her father decides to use her as bait to lure all their enemy countries to Bharata under the pretence of choosing a suitor, Maya is rescued from the burning palace by the mysterious Amar, who offers her not only the sun, moon, and stars; but also a relationship between equals. When Maya suspects that her life is in danger in Akaran and that Amar has been keeping secrets from her, she makes a decision that reveals her unknown past, after which she endeavours to restore her now broken world.

This story reminded me a lot of the fairy tales of East of the Sun, West of the Moon (and others based on it) since Maya marries a man she doesn't know much about who asks her to trust him and not snoop around for information essentially. She doesn't trust him (honestly I can't blame her) and discovers something that completely unravels the order of things and she goes on a journey to save her husband.

This book is impeccably written. The prose is beautiful and dreamy and just plain gorgeous. This is almost always a good thing, but in this case I found the prose to be flowery to the point where I got wrapped up in the imagery being presented and actually didn't catch everything that was going on in the plot. This isn't a huge detriment overall in my opinion because I am fully content to just waltz along with dreamy prose and ignore the plot (more of enjoying the journey rather than the destination kind of idea), but others might have more of an issue with it than me. The first part of the book where Maya is adjusting to life in Akaran was much more exciting in my opinion than the second part after things go horribly wrong and she's trying to fix everything. The romance between Amar and Maya is well done, and the (SPOILERS!) reincarnation aspect excuses any insta-love accusations I would have heaped on this. The world inspired by Indian mythology and folklore is simply amazing, and one I wish more authors would experiment with in their works.

A work of pure beauty, amazingly well-written with unique world-building that will leave you spell-bound.

Thoughts on the cover:
I love the juxtaposition between the image of the palace at sunrise at the top of the cover with the night sky filled with stars on the bottom and Maya in the middle.

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