Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen ~ Roshani Chokshi (earc) review [@NotRashKnee @stmartinspress @MacKidsBooks]

The Star-Touched Queen
St Martin's Griffin
April 26, 2016
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

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.

The first thing that needs to be mentioned with The Star-Touched Queen is the writing. The novel is filled with magical prose and fantastic descriptions. They definitely were not often how I would have imagined something described but there's no doubt about the picture they paint.

"The room had never felt this empty. Like I was trapped between the space of an echo and a scream." (pg 14)

In this world, with its horoscopes, harems, war, powers - magical and political - lives Maya. She knows that her horoscope means there won't be any suitors looking to marry her and she's accepted it. A life spent learning, without someone to answer to is what she dreams of. Until her father suddenly announces her planned marriage.

It's everything she always thought she would hate but with Amar it seems . . . different. Certainly not what she expected but maybe better.

If only there weren't so many things unknown to her, so many secrets kept and truths untold.

Maya's life in the new kingdom has just the right bit of strange. When it is put next to the magical, fantasy elements already present - the  Night Bazaar, the stories and myths, the magic - you aren't sure exactly what is making it different or why or how. When readers (and Maya) discover some of the truth about her new home it makes sense without having been obvious.

Possibly (probably?) because I am unfamiliar with Indian mythology, I was expecting The Star-Touched Queen to go in a different direction than it did. This turned out to be a fantastic thing because it left me really questioning different characters and their motives, even when scenes, undoubtedly, gave me a certain feeling and the surprises. The plot went a way I didn't see coming, included characters I hadn't imagined, in ways I didn't anticipate.

The Star-Touched Queen with its magical prose, mythology not often used in Western literature, unexpected characters (wit possibly more unexpected personalities), fantastical places and Maya, a character who's strong, smart and resourceful but still has doubts and insecurities, is a brilliant read.

digital review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

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