Monday, April 18, 2016

ARC Review: The Star-Touched Queen

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Source: St. Martin's Griffin for Review

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.

My Review

Roshani Chokshi's debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, is an unforgettable book. The novel's and Princess Maya's self-discovery and coming-of-age fantasy will stay with readers long after they've closed the cover because Ms. Chokshi creates such a tragically beautiful world full of heartbreak, magic, and love. This novel is intelligent, hauntingly gorgeous, and leaves readers feeling like they've just read one of the most gorgeous stories ever told.

The plot of The Star-Touched Queen is unlike any novel I've ever read before. It's fresh, but it also pays homage to historic Greek and Indian cultures with just a small touch of a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Unlike her half-sisters, Princess Maya is not betrothed to a prince in another kingdom. Instead, she's still a maiden because of her scary horoscope that promises "a marriage of Death and Destruction." Because of this, Maya has become accustomed staying unwed and to palace life in Bharata, even if she's mistreated by her father's wives and her half-sisters. Just when Maya thinks that she's going to stay in Bharata forever, her father plans a marriage for her to dispel war from his kingdom. But Maya's new marriage to Amar brings up many questions about what he does and what's expected of her, and before long, she's on a journey to find out who she really is and her importance to the world.

The Star-Touched Queen is a very lyrical and prose-filled novel, following Maya and her journey from Bharata to Akaran and beyond. Ms. Chokshi describes the kingdoms of Bharata and Akaran and the Night Bazaar with such lovely words., and interested readers will really have to read this one for themselves to see what I mean. She provides so much lavish and detailed imagery that readers will be seeing every detail of this novel in their head like a movie inside their heads.

The characters in this novel are utterly and devastatingly whole and developed. Even the characters who don't get a lot of time on the pages are well thought out and planned, and readers will be able to tell that Ms. Chokshi put her blood, sweat and tears into them.

Maya is one of the most interesting YA protagonists that I've ever come across. She's grown accustomed to her life, and now that everything is shaken, she must learn how to adapt and survive. She doesn't know whether or not to trust her new husband, Amar, but readers will be able to see her mature and grow during her time in Akaran. Amar is one of the most tender love interests in YA. I found myself swooning over him, and it's very easy to see how Maya thinks of him. Trust me, he'll be on everyone's list of book boyfriends by the end of the year.

Going on this journey with Maya was a wonderful experience, and Roshani Chokshi really knows how to get readers engaged with a novel. Like most seventeen-year-olds, Maya doesn't know everything. She knows what she needs to know to live in Bharata, even if that means terrifying every single tutor she's had. Once her father announces that she'll be married, everything changes. She must discover more about herself and her new life in order to thrive. I loved reading everything from her point of view, and getting to understand things just as she did. It was a magical experience.

I'll admit that I was very scared before starting The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, especially because fantasy is one of my least read genres. What I discovered was a compelling novel about love, death, and self-worth that readers are sure to cherish for years to come. Even though this is a YA title, I can very easily see it being a favorite of all kind of readers and choice for many book clubs in the very near future. I would recommend this book for fans of fantasy and for fans of Jessica Khoury's The Forbidden Wish.

Roshani Chokshi comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she's learning a new kind of storytelling.

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