Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi


The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets - thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran's magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar's plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk - it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

Inspired by Indian mythology. 

What I Liked:

The Star-Touched Queen is one of my most anticipated debuts of 2016 - and novels of 2016 in general. It's one of those books that seem brilliant and a must-have, given a gorgeous synopsis, genre, and cover. Everything about this book appealed to me since I heard about it, so you best be sure I was both excited and nervous to start reading it. But I'm really happy that this book did not disappoint!

The stars have cursed Mayavati her whole life. With a dark horoscope hanging over her head, she knows that she is destined to have a marriage of death. Maya is comfortable with not marrying anyone, but a sudden turn of events changes everything, and Maya finds herself married to the Raja of Akaran, Amar. Akaran is part of the Otherworld, and Amar is no mere mortal. Maya will soon understand what it means to be the Rani of Akaran - for better and for worse.

First thing I'd like to gush about - the Indian influence! I'm Indian so I'm very excited about the Indian mythology and culture so heavily infused into this book. FINALLY, we have a female protagonist who isn't some "golden-skinned" beauty - Maya captures a somewhat typical Indian girl of dark skin. And while the concept of an arranged marriage is somewhat present in the book, I love that it is not the cliche that we usually see in India-based books. So often authors will pick and choose certain aspects of Indian culture to write about - or exaggerate - and often it's arranged marriages. There is so much more to Indian history and culture! I think the author did an excellent job with the diversity.

Usually I'm not interested in stories that deal with reincarnation, whether in a major way, or tangentially. However, I love the aspect in this story. At one point in the story, Maya gets to see all of her past reincarnations, and it's a beautiful thing.

I really liked Maya, though not necessarily at first. At first, I was wary of her; she put too much stock into her horoscope, and she let all of the harem wives get under her skin, even after so many years of the snide comments. But I like how Maya embraced her horoscope, and how she took charge of her destiny when she meets Amar. Everything changes when she meets Amar.

Amar is somewhat of a static character in the book. He's kind of one-dimensional and not entirely there. It's obvious that he does not share the story with Maya, in that it is not his story to tell or his character that is developing. This story is solely about Maya and her journey, and Amar plays a role. I wish we got to know a deeper, more personal side to Amar. I liked Amar a lot and would have loved to understand better, and get to know more personal details about him. Amar is sweet and protective, yet secretive and mysterious.

This story had a Hades and Persephone feel to it (hence why I'm tagging it as a retelling). Amar did not kidnap Maya to the Otherworld, but by her going with him, she agrees to rule the Otherworld with him. And what she finds in the Otherworld, and the Night Bazaar, isn't what she expected. Learning about Akaran is difficult, as is staying away from temptation.

I liked the romance! It's a linear one (no love triangle), and the story takes place over many years (Amar and Maya don't age in the Otherworld), so while we may not see *all* of the development of the relationship, we know that they spend a long time getting to know each other. Parts of their story are so heartbreaking, and other parts are so happy and sweet. I lived for the sweet moments!

I love the cadence of the story. I was never bored, and the author always had me turning pages and eagerly awaiting the next scene. I picked up this book in the height of midterms, and yet, I could not put it down (and that's saying something - usually I'm very disciplined when it comes to midterms and studying). 

Overall, I was swept away by this beautiful story. It's a standalone, and certainly wraps up like one. I was satisfied with the ending, though I can see why the author is writing/wrote a companion novel to follow (in a different character's perspective). I can't wait to read her story!

What I Did Not Like:

I already talked about this a little above, but I wish Amar was less static and one-dimensional. Maybe it was just me that saw him that way. We don't get a ton of backstory about him, besides some of his interactions with Maya. And he never quite felt *real* to me, just a man filling a certain role. He literally could be anyone, any face, any male. 

I also wish there were more Amar/Maya moments! Trust me, they spend years together (they don't age in the Otherworld), so we know that all these swoony and cute moments exist theoretically, but we only get to see... a bare minimum. Like, less than five, I think. Not enough! More swoon and fire would have been great!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this novel! It's a beautiful and heartbreaking and lovely story with a very satisfying ending. Chokshi hit all of my feels with this book, and took my emotions on a roller-coaster. I certainly wasn't expecting that! I liked this book a lot and would recommend it to anyone who likes YA fantasy and/or mythology!

Rating:

4 stars. This novel did not disappoint me at all. I look forward to reading the companion novel (that character's story is going to be fantastic, I can feel it!), as well as more books by the author in the future!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

24 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed your review and have been anticipating this book for a while now!

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  2. I'm happy to see you liked this one. Maya sounds great and I'm glad the Indian mythology and culture was captured well. I am sad that Amar is so one-dimensional, because it's hard for me to root for the romance in such cases, but maybe now that I already know it won't be too bad.
    Lovely review, Alyssa! :)

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    1. I was kind of disappointed when it came to Amar, because this book is pitched as such an incredible romance story, you know? But I think he's also really swoony on paper, so it's easy to look past the one-dimensional-ness... it could just be me. o_o

      Thank you, Nick!

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  3. Great review! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one. I'm excited about the Indian Mythology. I can't wait to read it. :D

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  4. I haven't read this yet - though the ARC is sitting on my desk, taunting me! - so I didn't read your full review because I want to avoid even minor spoilers. BUT i read your intro and YAY, I'm SO glad you loved this!!! It's like my #1 most anticipated debut of 2016! I can't wait to get to it and fangirl with you!

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    1. You must! I don't think I spoiled anything, but I totally understand. Enjoy, Meredith!

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  5. Cursing myself for not requesting this on netgalley. Great review as always Alyss (Hey fellow Indian!). I also did not know that this one is very much influenced by Indian culture. I will definitely buy it when it releases here in India.

    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

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    1. I think it's still there! Thank you, Aparajita. *waves* I hope you love it!

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  6. I am really excited to read this one, so I am glad that you ended liking it! :) I didn't know there was so much of Indian culture in this book, but I was always intrigued by it, so it makes me even more excited now to read it. Great review Alyssa!

    Anatea | Anatea's Bookshelf

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    1. It's super SUPER India-based! I hope you like it, Anatea. =)

      Thank you!

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  7. I didn't really read this closely, but I just got this book in the mail!!!! I was so surprised! First ARC from a publisher! Woot! I can't wait to read it! I'm so glad to see that you enjoyed it and it didn't disappoint! Can't wait to read it! :)

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  8. Yay I am so glad and happy you really like this book, it really does looks and sounds utterly fantastic and heartbreaking! I can't wait when it comes out to check it out from the library and see if I will enjoy it as well. Thank you for your awesome post and Great review Alyssa!

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    1. It wasn't too heartbreaking though! I adored the book. Thank YOU, Katiria!

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  9. Yay :D Awesome review sweetie. <3 So glad you liked this book a lot. Sigh. I cannot wait to read it too :D So curious about it. Yay for good romance. <3 But ugh, I'm a bit sad there weren't more cute and swoony moments.. but glad you still enjoyed it so much :) Thank you for sharing. <3

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    1. Thank you! I hope you like it! And dude, I wish there had been more too. It was good nonetheless!

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  10. I'm so happy to hear you loved this one, Alyssa! I'm soooo looking forward to reading this one! I've read the first 5 chapters and I cannot wait to get my hands in the full book!

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  11. This book sounds awesome! I love the author's site and the myths she shares there. I'm so glad you loved it, it makes me even more excited to read it!

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    1. Woohoo! I hope you read and love this one, Lis! <3

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  12. I don't know if I want to read this anymore. I was super annoyed by her tweets last week about unfollowing bloggers because of reading statuses and I just think that if you want to be an author, you have to have a thicker skin. I also see her really chummy with some people I..dislike and I don't know if I want to bother. It's still on my list and I'm glad to see you really liked it Alyssa.
    (how do you read so much??? You and Nick need to make a competition of who reads the most or fastest. The winner gets my eternal admiration)

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    1. Ah! I saw that! And LOL, I wonder if we are thinking of the same people... because if we are, meh, I don't like them much either. :D

      HA! In my spare time... which is never... honestly I don't even know. Nick would definitely win, I only manage 3-4 books a week, around university and my job! :D :D :D

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