“Who are you?” If I could tell her, I would. But that answer was beyond me, so I gave the only one that felt right. “I’m a dead girl walking.”
Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #1
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Length: 342 pages
Rating: 4/5 ★★★★☆
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.
This book blew me away. I didn’t know what to expect going in and what I got was beautiful writing with a compelling story.
The main character goes on a journey to discover herself and in the way she makes peace with her past and becomes ready to face hey future.
The fantasy weekend are based on Indian tales, of which I know nothing about. The characters and the creatures they interact with are new but the author manages to explain what they are while keeping the pace of the story.
And that’s all I can say without any spoilers. If this seem like your kind of thing then I encourage you to pick it up. If you’ve already read it or don’t care about spoilers then read on.
*I’ll be singing La Abeja Maya for a week*
She has many names and titles, one of them is Queen of acting impulsively and based on not enough evidence provided by not reliable sources… I still love her though. She was dealt a shitty card in life but she manages to come to terms with it and be her own person. She doesn’t let others define her and she still hopes for love. Her most important trait, in my opinion, is that she is loyal.
This man is the definition of smooth and I loved every second of it. He is so in love that even when his wife doesn’t remember who he is he still says the most lovely phrases and treats her with the utmost care.
“I want to lie beside you and know the weight of your dreams,” he said, brushing his lips against my knuckles. “I want to share whole worlds with you and write your name in the stars.”
I’m gonna be honest, for a moment there I thought she might be Maya’s ex girlfriend…
She was a good antagonist because our protagonist care so much for her. Even when she forgot who she was she had the instinct to trust Nritti.
Nritti sought chaos over everything because she felt like her life was in shambles, and I respect that. But, she was immortal so a few decades until they were reunited weren’t that long. She was kind of a bitch, I’m so glad Maya could finally move on.
Everyone would benefit from having a flesh-eating spirit as their companion, let’s be real. Kamala is a realist and she pairs really well with Maya, who tends to get carried away by her thoughts and emotions. She acts as a teacher and a friends while keeping her snarky attitude and demon nature. She cares for Maya but that doesn’t mean she is suddenly super kind or anything like that. It just means that we get fantastic quotes like this:
“There, there,” she crooned, “would that I could eat anyone that made you unhappy.”
I can’t wait to read the next book so that we get her story. Here we see a little girl full of dreams of magic who, because of circumstances turns into a warrior, a soldier for her kingdom.
The writing style was stunning. The descriptions were rich and evocative to the point where I had to stop and just admire the way the words were woven. She is talking about a bunch of trees in the garden and it feels like the most perfect place in the world. The outfits that Maya receives are detailed so well that you’ll have no problem imagining the majesty of each one. The way Roshani Chokshi writes makes it almost impossible to put down the book. The world building. Indian fantasy is not something we get much of in mainstream media, even less coming from actual indian people.
The teaching of how we have to accept our pasts, because it impacts our every decision, but we also have to know to move on from it. There’s no point in denying who we are, who we were, but we always have the choice of doing something with it, growing from it. The past is important but we can’t let it define everything that makes us the people we are.
How complex the feelings were. Nothing was easy and straightforward but when dealing with each characters’ feelings the author took us on a journey. It’s so easy to read a book and classify everyone into bad or good that we do it subconsciously, but Chokshi tells a story closer to reality: no one is just evil and everyone can justify their actions in some way.
The fact that she didn’t forgive Mother Dhina just because she now had a better life. She was able to recognize how much she’d hurt her and see that it was nothing more than a sad old woman, but that doesn’t erase her acts. So, while she does give her some solace it doesn’t mean that everything is magically fixed:
I waited and waited until it felt like a century had pried its fingers off my hate one by one. At the end of it all was nothing but pity.
Yes, it may be cliché but I still love the power of love and it was so present all along the story that it doesn’t feel cheap at all. Mayavati was powerful not because she was born with power (which she was on her previous lives) but because she loved fiercely and didn’t let anything stand in her way.
But now I knew that it wasn’t the magic of past stories that made me feel this way. It was the same thing I recognized in Naraka but could not name. Love. Impossible love.
The reunion of Maya and Gauri and their goodbye, I almost started to cry, it was so beautiful. Maya knew she’d probably never see Gauri again and she was walking towards battle and death so she tried to give her as much love from her big sister as she could. She told her one last story before parting, her own, and she got what most people don’t get when going away forever: proper closure.
I smiled. “Don’t you remember? We can always find each other in our same constellation. The Solitary Star.”
Finally, how Maya examines her feelings for Nritti, acknowledging how much they loved each other but recognizing that they changed and turned bad, showing that there’s nothing wrong with ending a relationship with someone you used to love:
I mourned us. I mourned for the girls that had crouched beside a riverbank and fished out tortoises and pearls. I gathered all that sorrow … and then I let it go.
Girl hate at the beginning, she was so much better than the other wives who just accepted their fate and were happy to talk about clothes and nothing else. “Not like other girls!” is a trope that was over done before anyone wrote it.
How easily manipulated Maya was. The girl is being treated as a queen, given magic powers over the cosmos, and respected, but a disembodied voice from a black mirror tells her the man doesn’t care from her? She is all over that. And it happened twice! She was centuries old and still fell for the words of a woman who swore to destroy her! Like… think
She couldn’t have waited literally 24 hours until the spell was off and she could talk with Amar??
agni kai trial could have gone so much better if Amar and Maya had better communication. The only thing Amar had to do was talk, if he had told Maya that he fully believed in her and they proposed the trial from a place of mutual understanding, this wouldn’t have happened. So, a bit of healthy communication with your spouse could avoid an apocalypse, keep that in mind.
I had to settle for what magic I could create on my own. I could read more. Learn more. Make new dreams.
Why did they always start with history? Show me a dream unrealized. Don’t show me unchangeable paths.
I, not the starlight, shaped my decisions. And it was me, not the evening sky, who shouldered the responsibility for decisions gone wrong.
It’s only those that deserve nothing that want everything.
Time to embrace the light that was neither banished nor tainted, but buried deep within me, waiting until I could claim it once more.
I loved him with two loves. One, a relic of another era. Another, unformed and hot, a freshly wrought star. All enigma and song.