“A memory is a fine legacy to leave behind.”
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.
Roshani Choksi’s debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, re-imagines a Hades and Persephone storyline with a touch of Indian mythology using lyrical prose and beautiful imagery.
Mayavati (Maya) is born with a bad horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction. With this, she grew up feeling cursed by the stars, scorned by her own people, and unloved by her own family except her sister Gauri. When her father, the King of Baratha announced that she is to be marry to one of the royal princes from other Kingdoms, Maya can’t believe the news, because who would want to marry a cursed girl like her? And when the King revealed to Maya the real plan behind the wedding, which is a lot worse and complicated, Maya has no choice but to do her father’s biddings. But before she can execute the final plan, a mysterious Prince, Amar arrives and whisk her off to his mysterious kingdom, Akaran. There, Maya will soon learn about the true nature of the Prince who saved her, his kingdom and her own past.
Roshani Choksi’s wordings is something I can soaked myself into anytime of the day. Those beautiful prose, meticulously picked and arranged words are lyrical and almost melodious. Not only they are beautiful but sometimes also thought-provoking which surely capture readers’ attention.
“The worms do not take heed of caste and rank when they feast on our ashes,” the Raja said. “Your subjects will not remember you. They will not remember the shade of your eyes, the colors you favored, or the beauty of your wives. They will only remember your impression upon their hearts and whether you filled them with glee or grief. That is your immortality.”
Roshani Choksi’s description of things and surroundings are rich and vivid which makes the world of The Star-Touched Queen easily get lost into. The Kingdoms of Baratha, and Akaran are carefully woven to capture readers imaginations.
“I know emptiness. I know the taste of blood against my teeth. I know what it is to fill your belly with iron. I know pain. I know memories that won’t stay. I know the ghost of life and the perfume of souls.”
With rich and elaborate descriptions of things and surroundings, I am surprised that the characters appearance are not given so much emphasis by the author. Which for me, makes the characters more intriguing, and give readers a chance to work with their own imaginations. I actually prefer this than those novels where characters descriptions are mentioned every now and then by sickly-in-love protagonist.
Few YA books incorporated Indian mythology and folklore in their plots and I like how Roshani Choksi worked it through it this book. Not just with the settings, and characters appearance but also with the main plot line and twist that basically run the whole story. It really all blended well together. Not a thing feels force or out of place.
The only mild complaint with this book is the little character developments for both of Maya and Amar. If the next book will be a continuation of Maya and Amar’s story, then the little character development is forgivable. But since the next book is a companion story which will focus to a different character, then I feel like Maya and Amar’s characters were not given enough arc to play with. Mostly because of the reincarnation plot line. Which is one of the reasons why I don’t like much reincarnation stories. Reincarnation is a good excuse for instant connections between characters, which easily push the story to the express lane, and in return will affect my journey as a reader who will surely enjoy a slower ride with the characters.
That one quibble aside, The Star-Touched Queen is still an engaging and gorgeously written debut novel. Anyone who appreciates good writing, especially poetry, I think would love this book. And if you also love reading about fantasy, mythology, kingdom’s politics and reincarnation, all the better. I myself is looking forward to the companion novel that will focus to Maya’s sister Gauri, which I hope has more actions, given that Gauri is a warrior Princess.