The Star-Touched Queenby Roshani Chokshi
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
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.
THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.
A princess's destiny may lie among the stars in Chokshi's exquisite debut novel. Princess Mayavati of Bharata is only one among her father's many children, and her horoscope says that death is her constant shadow. Her kingdom is on the brink of war, and when her father announces that she soon must choose her husband, it comes with a horrible catch. When a mysterious stranger, Amar, breaks into Maya's room and offers her the keys to his kingdom, she only hesitates for a moment before being whisked away to Akaran, a haunted place where mirrors offer glimpses of strange lands, and an enchanted tapestry holds the fate of millions in its threads. Chokshi's prose is captivating, and the pages come alive through lush descriptions of Night Bazaar teeming with Otherworldly delights, gardens made of glass, and realms where the lines between life and death are blurred. Maya is a strong heroine, and while there is romance, an emphasis on familial love adds another level of richness to a folkloric fantasy about sacrifice, self-discovery, and making your own destiny. Ages 13–up. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Gr 9 Up—Born with a horoscope that predicts a marriage of death and destruction, Maya is an outcast in her father's kingdom, Bharata. When her father's political machinations go horribly wrong, Maya finds herself married to Amar and queen of Akaran—a mysterious place filled with secrets and magic. Amar offers Maya the chance to rule at his side and become more than Bharata ever would have allowed. All he asks in return is her patience and trust, which soon prove more than she can give. Her search for answers will lead her across worlds and through her own fragmented memories to discover surprising truths about her husband's kingdom and herself. Maya is refreshingly unapologetic about her ambitions and her desire for independence. Although her distrust and doubts lead to the main conflict of the story, she is quick to own those mistakes and works to correct them even when it might be to her detriment. Chokshi's debut fantasy is filled with vivid and unexpected imagery as Maya discovers the wonders and dangers found in her new home in the Otherworld. Well-researched figures from Hindu folklore and mythology, astonishing creatures, and expressive characters further complement the story. A setting drawn from ancient India, romance with feminist sensibilities, and a unique magic system reminiscent of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Little, Brown, 2011) make this a novel sure to appeal to fans of Renée Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn (Putnam, 2015). VERDICT A stunning debut filled with lush writing, smart characters, and a mysterious plot that provides as many twists as it does swoons.—Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library
In a fantasy world influenced by Indian mythology, a young princess lives in scorn because of the horoscope that decrees she will marry "death and destruction." But adversity breeds strength, and "dusky-complexioned" Maya has spent her childhood and adolescence reading mythology and history, spying on her father's councils, and weaving magical stories for her beloved half sister. When her father asks her to sacrifice her life to save their kingdom, Maya has no choice. And then, at the moment she is to drink poison, a mysterious, handsome stranger appears and whisks her away to the Otherworld, the place of demons and magic. What follows is a play on the classic love-betrayal-redemption arc of Cupid and Psyche or Beauty and the Beast. Chokshi's rich, descriptive writing weaves a lush web that almost hides the lack of character development; this is a book exclusively concerned with telling, and style overwhelms substance throughout. But a swoony romance, betrayal, and a journey to power and self-affirmation, with a slightly wicked, slightly funny animal sidekick in the best tradition (think Garth Nix's Mogget as a crimson-eyed horse), work together to create a spell that many readers will willingly succumb to, flaws and all. Richly imagined, deeply mythic, filled with lovely language with violet overtones: this is an author to watch even if she's not there yet. (Fantasy. 12 & up)
Praise for The Star-Touched Queen:
New York Times Bestseller
#9 on the Summer 2016 Kids' Indie Next List
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
A Goodreads Best Book of the Month
“Chokshi's prose is captivating, and the pages come alive …. Maya is a strong heroine, and while there is romance, an emphasis on familial love adds another level of richness to a folkloric fantasy about sacrifice, self-discovery, and making your own destiny.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Richly imagined, deeply mythic, filled with lovely language… this is an author to watch” Kirkus Reviews
"Magic is woven into every word of the STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Vibrantly imaginative and gracefully written, I was spellbound from the first line. A dazzling, sensuous feast of world-building, romance, and mythology." Sarah J. Maas, New York Times Bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series.
"Roshani Chokshi has crafted a bewitching tale with a setting so vivid and unique, I wished I could step right through the pages." Amy Ewing, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Jewel
"Chokshi's storytelling glimmers like magic on every page-a novel meant to be savored." Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix
"A luscious, bloodthirsty fairy tale with all the romance, magic, and gorgeous mythology I could ask for Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic and The United States of Asgard series
"Gorgeously poetic writing gives vibrant, sensuous life to the worlds of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN." Kate Elliott, of Court of Fives
Read an Excerpt
The Star-Touched Queen
By Roshani Chokshi
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Roshani Chokshi
All rights reserved.
NOT A GHOST
Staring at the sky in Bharata was like exchanging a secret. It felt private, like I had peered through the veil of a hundred worlds. When I looked up, I could imagine — for a moment — what the sky hid from everyone else. I could see where the winds yawned with silver lips and curled themselves to sleep. I could glimpse the moon folding herself into crescents and half-smiles. When I looked up, I could imagine an existence as vast as the sky. Just as infinite. Just as unknown.
But today, there was no time to let my head wander. Duty kept my gaze fixed on the funeral pyre slowly winding its way toward the harem. I choked back a cough. Charred incense filled my lungs, thick and over-sweet with the smell of burning marigolds. Beside the pyre, mourners screeched and wept, tearing their hair and smearing ash across their faces. It was an impressive show, but their bored eyes betrayed them. Hired help, no doubt. Real grief had no place in my father's court.
An ivory screen separated the harem from the funerary procession, but I caught snatches of him through the lattice. He wore a white sherwani jacket, and around his throat coiled a necklace strung together with the birthstones of his children. There, by the crook of his neck, my birthstones — a handful of muted sapphires — caught the watery morning light. My father's head was bent to the ear of a pale-faced courtier, his voice low. He wasn't talking about the dead wife on the pyre. He probably didn't even know her name. It was Padmavathi. She had a round face and used to sing in the morning, crooning to her swelling stomach with a secret smile. I never once heard her say a cruel thing about anyone. Not even me.
No, my father was discussing war. The shadow of it looms over us constantly, sometimes hidden. Always present. I only know of the war in glimpses, but I see its pall everywhere. I see war in my father's face, pinching his cheeks sallow. I see war in the courtier's brows, always bent in grief. I see war in the empty coffers, in the tents where once-spirited soldiers await the crematory grounds.
I leaned closer to catch his words, only to be yanked back.
"Get away from there," Mother Dhina hissed. "It's not right for you to stand at the front."
My jaw tightened, but I stepped back without a word. I couldn't risk giving the wives more venom. They may have covered their lips with silk, but their words were unsheathed daggers. According to the royal physician, childbirth had killed Padmavathi, but no one believed him. In the eyes of the court, there was only one killer —
* * *
In Bharata, no one believed in ghosts because the dead never lingered. Lives were remade instantly, souls unzipped and tipped into the streaked brilliance of a tiger, a gopi with lacquered eyes or a Raja with a lap full of jewels. I couldn't decide whether I thought reincarnation was a scare tactic or a hopeful message. Do this, so you won't come back as a cockroach. Give alms to the poor, and in your next life you'll be rich. It made all good deeds seem suspect.
Even then, it was a comfort to know that there were no ghosts in my country. It meant that I was alive. To everyone else, I was a dead girl walking. But I was no ghost. I was no spectral imprint of something that had lived and died and couldn't leave this place behind. It meant I still had a chance at life.
By the time the funerary procession ended, the sun had barely begun to edge its way across the sky. The mourners had dispersed as soon as the royal announcement ended and only the flames presided over Padmavathi's burial. When the noonday bell rang throughout the palace, even the smells — smoke and petals, salt and jasmine — had disappeared, scraped up by the wind and carried far into the shadowless realm of the dead.
Before me, the halls of the harem glittered, sharp as a predator's eyes. Light clung to the curved torsos of statuettes and skimmed the reflections from still pools of water. In the distance, the great double doors of the harem yawned open and the mellow midday heat crept in from the outside. I could never trust the stillness of the harem.
Behind me, the living quarters and personal rooms of the harem wives and my half-sisters had melted into shadow. The caretakers had set the children of the royal nursery to sleep. The tutors had begun droning to the betrothed princesses about the lands and ancestries of their soon-to-be husbands.
I had my own appointment. My "tutor of the week." Poor things. They never lasted long; whether that was their decision or mine just depended on the person. It wasn't that I disliked learning. It was simply that they couldn't teach me what I wanted to know. My real place of study hovered above their heads. Literally.
Outside, the thunder of clashing gongs drifted through the harem walls. Parrots scattered from their naps, launching into the air with a huff and a screech. The familiar shuffle of pointed shoes, golden tassels and nervous voices melted into a low murmur. All of my father's councilors were making their way to the throne room for his announcement.
Within moments, my father would reveal his solution for dealing with the rebel kingdoms. My heart jostled. Father, while never on time, was nonetheless efficient. He wouldn't waste time on the frivolities of the court, which meant that I had a limited amount of time to get to the throne room and I still had to deal with the most recent tutor. I prayed he was a simpleton. Better yet — superstitious.
Father once said the real language of diplomacy was in the space between words. He said silence was key to politics.
Silence, I had learned, was also key to spying.
I slipped off anything noisy — gold bracelets, dangling earrings — and stashed them behind a stone carving of a mynah bird. Navigating through the harem was like stepping into a riddle. Niches filled with statues of gods and goddesses with plangent eyes and backs arced in a forgotten reel of a half-dance leaned out into the halls. Light refracted off crystal platters piled with blooms the bright color of new blood, and flickering diyas cast smoke against the mirrors, leaving the halls a snarl of mist and petals. I touched the sharp corners. I liked the feeling of stone beneath my fingers, of something that pushed back to remind me of my own solidity.
As I rounded the last corner, the harem wives' sharp laughter leapt into the halls, sending prickles across my arm. The harem wives' habits never changed. It was the one thing I liked about them. My whole life was crafted around their boredom. I could probably set my heartbeat to the hours they whittled away exchanging gossip.
Before I could run past them, a name rooted me to the spot ... my own. At least, I thought I heard it. I couldn't be sure. No matter how much I wanted to plant one foot in front of the other and leave them behind, I couldn't.
I held my breath and stepped backward, pressing my ear as close to the curtains as I could.
"It's a pity," said a voice sultry from years spent smoking the rose-scented water pipes.
Mother Dhina. She ruled the harem with an iron fist. She may not have given the Raja any sons, but she had one enduring quality: life. She had survived seven pregnancies, two stillbirths and a sweating sickness that claimed eight wives in the past three years. Her word was law.
A simpering voice. Mother Shastri. Second in command. She was one of the younger wives, but had recently given birth to twin sons. She was far more conniving than Mother Dhina, but lacked all the ambition of real malice.
"It's just a pity Advithi didn't go the same way as Padmavati."
My hands curled into fists, nails sinking into the flesh of my palms. Advithi. I didn't know her long enough to call her mother. I knew nothing of her except her name and a vague rumor that she had not gotten along with the other wives. In particular, Mother Dhina. Once, they had been rivals. Even after she died, Mother Dhina never forgave her. Other than that, she was a non-descript dream in my head. Sometimes when I couldn't sleep at night, I'd try to conjure her, but nothing ever revealed itself to me — not the length of her hair or the scent of her skin. She was a mystery and the only thing she left me was a necklace and a name. Instinctively, my fingers found her last gift: a round-cut sapphire strung with seed pearls.
Mother Dhina wheezed, and when she spoke, I could almost smell the smoke puffing out between her teeth. "Usually when a woman dies in childbirth, the child goes too."
Mother Shastri chided her with a hollow tsk. "It's not good to say such things, sister."
"And why is that?" came a silvery voice. I couldn't place that one. She must have been new. "It should be a good thing for a child to survive the mother. It is a shame Padmavathi's son died with her. Who is Advithi —?"
"Was," corrected Mother Dhina with a tone like thunder. The other wife stuttered into silence. "She was nothing more than a courtesan who caught the Raja's eye. Mayavati is her daughter."
"Her? The one with the horoscope?"
Another wife's voice leapt to join the other's: "Is it true that she killed Padmavathi?"
Bharata may not believe in ghosts, but horoscopes were entirely different. The kingdom choreographed whole lives on whatever astral axis was assigned to you. Father didn't seem to believe in horoscopes. He spoke of destiny as a malleable thing, something that could be bent, interpreted or loosened to any perspective. But that didn't change the mind of the court. Whatever magic had unearthed meaning in stars, my celestial forecast was shadowed and torn, and the wives never let me forget. It made me hate the stars and curse the night sky.
"She might as well have," said Mother Dhina dismissively. "That kind of bad fortune only attracts ill luck."
"Is it true, then?"
How many times had I asked myself that question? I tried to convince myself that it was just the idle talk of the harem wives and a series of bad coincidences, but sometimes ... I wasn't so sure.
"The Raja needs to get rid of her," said Mother Shastri. "Before her plague spreads to someone else."
"How can he?" scoffed another. "Who would marry her with that horoscope? She brings death wherever she goes."
The new wife, with the silvery voice, piped up eagerly, "I heard her shadow doesn't stay in one place."
Another voice chimed in, "A servant told me that snakes bow to her."
I pushed myself off the wall. I knew all the rumors, and I didn't care to hear them again. Their words crawled over my skin. I wanted to shake off the insults, the laughter, the shadows. But all of it clung to me, thick as smoke, pushing out the blood from my veins until I pulsed with hate.
The second gong rang in the distance. I walked faster, feet pounding on the marble. As I ran through the gardens, sunlight slanted off my skin and a feeling of wrongness struck me. It didn't dawn on me until afterward, until light knifed through the fig trees and striped me like a tiger, until I caught the shadow-seamed imprint of a leaf against the paved walkway to the archival buildings.
I couldn't see it.CHAPTER 2
LESSONS IN SILENCE
The archives were cut like honeycombs and golden light clung to them, dousing every tome, painting, treatise and poem the soft gold of ghee freshly skimmed from boiling butter. I was only allowed to visit once a week — to meet with my weekly tutor before I inevitably scared him away. Every time I left the archival room, my arms brimmed with parchment paper. I loved the feeling of discovery, of not knowing how much I wanted something until I had discovered its absence.
The week before, I had lost myself in the folktales of Bharata. Stories of elephants who spun clouds, shaking tremors loose from ancient trunks gnarled with the rime of lost cyclones, whirlwinds and thunderstorms. Myths of frank-eyed naga women twisting serpentine, flashing smiles full of uncut gemstones. Legends of a world beneath, above, beside the one I knew — where trees bore edible gems and no one would think twice about a girl with dark skin and a darker horoscope. I wanted it to be real so badly that sometimes I thought I could see the Otherworld. Sometimes, if I closed my eyes and pressed my toes into the ground, I could almost sense them sinking into the loam of some other land, a dream demesne where the sky cleaved in two and the earth was sutured with a magic that could heal hearts, mend bones, change lives.
It was a dream I didn't want to part with, but I had to settle for what magic I could create on my own. I could read more. Learn more. Make new dreams. But the best part wasn't hoarding those wishes to myself. It was sharing everything I learned with Gauri, my half-sister. She was the only one I couldn't scare away ... the only one I didn't want to.
Thinking of Gauri always made me smile. But as soon as I caught sight of my tutor of the week, the smile disappeared. He stood between two pillars of the archive section marking the kingdom's history. Beyond the sheer number of things to read in the archive room, what I loved most was its ceiling. It was empty, wide enough to crawl through and conveniently linked to my father's inner sanctum.
The tutor, as luck would have it, stood directly below my hiding spot.
At least Father's announcement hadn't started. The courtiers still murmured and the footfall of tardiness fell on my ears like music. But if I was ever going to get to hear that meeting, I had to get rid of the tutor first.
"Punctuality is a prize among women," said the tutor.
I bit back a cringe. His voice was sticky. The words drawn out like they would morph into a noose and slip around you in the dark. I stepped back, only to see his eyes sharpen into a glare.
He was heavyset and tall. Soft-rounded jowls faded into a non-chin and thick neck. Greasy black eyes dragged across my body. In the past, my tutors had all been the same — a little doughy, a little nervous. Always superstitious. This new tutor held my gaze evenly. That was unexpected. None of my other tutors had ever met my eye. Sometimes the tutors sidled against the dark of the archival chambers, hands trembling as they pushed a set of notes toward me. History lessons, they said. Why did they always start with history? Show me a dream unrealized. Don't show me unchangeable paths.
The tutor cleared his throat. "I have no intention to teach you history or letters or speech. I intend to teach you silence. Stillness."
This time I didn't even try to hide my scowl. I did not like this replacement. Tutors generally left me alone. I never had to raise my voice. I never had to scowl. I didn't even need words. What scared them most was much simpler and sweeter than that — a smile. The moment I smiled — not a real one, of course, but a slow, crocodile reveal of teeth and a practiced manic gleam — the tutor would make an excuse, edge along the wall and flee out of the archive rooms.
Who wanted to be smiled at by the girl that trailed shadows like pets, conjured snakes and waited for Death, her bridegroom, to steal her from these walls? Never mind that none of it was true. Never mind that the closest I had come to real magic was making off with an entire tray of desserts without anyone noticing. The shadow of me always loomed larger than the person who cast it. And sometimes that had its benefits.
This tutor, however, was not as easily cowed. I strained my ears, listening for the footfall of more courtiers, but it was silent. The meeting would start any minute now and here I was, stuck with some fool who wanted to teach me the virtue of silence.
I grinned at him ...
... and he grinned back.
"It is unseemly to smile at strangers, Princess."
He took a step closer to me. Shadows glommed around him, choking off the honey light of the room. He smelled wrong. Like he had borrowed the scent of another person. Sweat slicked his skin and when he walked closer, red shimmered in his eyes — like coal smoldering in each socket.
"Let me teach you, lovely thing," he said, taking another step closer. "Humans always get it wrong, don't they? They think a bowl of rice at the front door is strong enough to keep a demon away. Wrong. What you know is a false promise of strength. Let me show you weakness."
The room had never felt this empty, like I was trapped between the space of an echo and a scream. I couldn't hear anything. Not the parrots scuttling on their branches or the court notary droning his list of the afternoon's agenda. Silence was a silhouette, something I could trace.
Excerpted from The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. Copyright © 2016 Roshani Chokshi. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
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."
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
pooled ink Reviews: What a fiery tale I have just read! A gorgeously creative mix of Indian folklore and mythology this book takes the story of Persephone and Hades and transforms it into a new world entirely. Chokshi’s grasp of language is akin to that of an artist and their beloved paints. Each word is a color. Each sentence is a brushstroke. Images, sounds, tastes, smells, textures, and emotions are woven throughout the canvas of each page soaking up the story and capturing the reader’s heart with it. A lovely tale of love, betrayal, and the prophecies of the stars, The Star-Touched Queen stands strikingly poetic amongst its literary compatriots. Sink into its pages and allow each tendril of ink and imagery to ensnare your heart as you discover a realm of infinite possibility and trial. Read my FULL review here: https://pooledink.com/2016/05/03/the-star-touched-queen/
So, it seems even when I'm not actively looking to read a fairy tale/folklore retelling, one crawls into my lap and demands to be read. Not knowing in advance that this was inspired by folklore gave me a lovely treat when I picked up on the signs several chapters in, but the best part about THIS retelling is that it didn't need to be one to hold my interest. This book was BEAUTIFUL. The writing was lyrical but not purple, and the settings were stunning and so sensory! I was reading brand-new metaphors, and a few times I had to stop and just say "Wow." I was craving diverse fiction in a setting I don't normally read, and the India of STQ was breathtaking. Totally delivered! Besides just the writing, the characters were compelling, and the emphasis on Maya's personal growth being integral to her quest was so masterfully handled. I was so into Amar, but I was able to see him the way Maya did, with complexities present. Now for my folklorist take: to save spoilers, I'll say that ATU 425A, the classification of this kind of story, is my absolute favorite. I love it in all its other variants and was THRILLED when I realized that this was the source. I specialize in European fairy tales and lore, so I was not familiar with the Indian variant. This made me enjoy the story all the more! And honestly, my highest bit of praise is this: Even though I know this tale type upside down and backwards, Chokshi STILL managed to keep me guessing and holding my breath. I want to visit this world and read the Hindu folklore that inspired it. I did not know what to expect from this book, but I was thrilled beyond belief and hardly wanted to put it down to sleep (which resulted in my dreams filling in the rest of the story all night). I highly recommend it to fans of Sarah J. Maas, Rae Caeson, and rich fairy tale romances. I could go on and on, but I'll leave it with this: Read it! You won't regret it.
Loved it! The characters (I want Kamala to be my BFF!), the world-building, the romance, and Roshani's beautiful prose had me devouring this book in less than 24 hours. Read it!
Hey, everyone! It's been a while, but I've got another review for you! This time, it's on The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. It's about a princess named Maya whose cursed with a horoscope that pairs her with death and destruction, so naturally, her kingdom fears her. After a political arrangement gone wrong, Maya ends up married to a stranger named Amar, who is king to this magical, in-between place called Akaran. Once there, Maya discovers secrets, new and old, and must unravel the truth about herself before it's too late. I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, so it's nice to finally get to it. Especially when all these books on my TBR are competing for my attention, saying "Read me! Read me!" ;) While there were moments where I lost interest, overall, this book was a great read! Even though this book was enjoyable-to the point where I stayed up till 1 a.m. to finish it-I can't discard the fact that the story didn't interest me right away. There were times where I would skim the pages and had to go back again in order to understand what just happened. Maybe because I felt as though nothing really happened in the beginning, but once Amar pops onto the scene, things start to get really interesting. Like right before part two of the book, there was a really tense scene that basically played with my heartstrings and becoming really riled up after that scene! Afterwards, I saw more urgency within the book, which was really nice. The characters themselves were interesting to behold. I kind of wish we had more of a chance to see some of them fleshed out, but at least A Crown of Wishes is coming out next year, which is about the protagonist's sister (who is really fascinating, btw). But the main characters-Maya, Amar, and Nritti- are really great to read about, even though it's all in Maya's POV. The complexity of these characters has you rooting for them, while at the same time acknowledging that they have flaws, too. For example, while I like Maya for being smart and resourceful, at times, she could be quite annoying. It's just that she doubts herself way too much. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it was nice seeing every character at fault, and that it was too complex to just put blame on a certain person. By the end of it all, you have empathy for a lot of people within The Star-Touched Queen. Overall, I liked reading this book and encourage anyone who has this on their TBR pile to read it as well. It may be a little tedious in the beginning, but the ending is where it's at! That's all I have to say about The Star-Touched Queen; thanks for reading!
Maya’s horoscope is cursed, which has made her a pariah in the harem she was raised. Still, she hopes this will protect her independence. Then her father, the Raja, decides to marry her off for political reasons–or at least that’s what he says he intends. But Maya is soon whisked away to become the wife of the Raja of Akaran, a magical land that controls the balance of life and death. But while Maya is coming into her own, she is still forced to take a lot on faith. She makes a mistake that forces her to come to terms with her past and also claim her future. This has definite tones of Cupid and Psyche or East of the Sun West of the Moon, both stories I LOVE for a starting point. I wish I had more non-Western comparisons, because I’m sure they are there. I am just sadly not well-read enough to see them. But the tone of this novel feels magical already, before any supernatural elements are added. This feels like a fairy tale. The language in this novel is really lovely. It paints a clear picture and is evocative. It also manages to make some romantic scenes that I wouldn’t have expected to be particularly romantic kind of steamy. That is talent. I would have liked to see more from the relationship between Maya and Amar. I get it. They’re fated. There’s some unspoken history. There is going to be a little bit of love at first site. And there is also the fairy tale-esque element of the book that makes me willing to go with a lot of this. Still, I would have liked to see that relationship grow and develop rather than relying on miscommunication and fate. Part of what I like about this trope is that it forces two characters together in an intimate space and they have to get to know one another. I don’t know that Maya really knew Amar any better at the end, even after fighting to get him back. Maya as a character was aces though. I loved that she didn’t just trust Amar outright. That she questioned and fought for herself, even if sometimes she was wrong. She was strong but also compassionate. This is not a story about Maya needing Amar, but about Maya coming into herself and discovering her power.
Absolutely loved it! One of those I raced to the end but dreaded finishing because I didn't want to leave the world or characters. Gorgeous storytelling. Roshani knocked it out of the park.
I would like to thank St. Martin's Press & NetGalley for a copy of this e-ARC to review. Though I received this ebook for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review. Goodreads Teaser: "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. The "Star-Touched Queen" is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology." This is a fantastic creation, pieces of several Indian mythologies woven together into something new and wholly its own. At once a story of self discovery, love, and ultimate power; this story spans lifetimes while only taking a few short years to occur. Thus is the magic of Akaran, Amar, and even Maya if she's willing to accept it. I enjoyed Maya. She's feisty and smart, and stubborn to a dangerous fault. She's also loyal, caring, compassionate, and sometimes wise. But at the same time she's like most people, which means she doesn't like being kept in the dark. The longer the truth is kept from her the more inclined she is to trust in whispered secrets. Can she get past her desire for true freedom and trust Amar until all is to be revealed to her, or will her impulsiveness get her into trouble? Amar is a harder character to get to know. He seems kind and certainly his love for Maya seems real. But since the story is told from Maya's point of view we don't get much more than her fleeting interactions with Amar to gauge his true intentions. But what we see of him makes him a likable character, even if he does seem to be keeping secrets. The progression of the story is fairly smooth, and I like the way the story is frequently shown to us rather than simply being told. Although her background seems a tad long, its importance becomes clear deeper in the tale. Add in all the fantastic mythological beings, and parts of various myths, and you get a lovely, original story built on the bones of exceedingly beautiful, though sometimes frightening, Indian myths. This story stands up very well on its own; it also provides plenty of fodder, fueling my desire to learn more about the original Indian myths used to help craft such a powerful tale.
The Star-Touched Queen follows Maya, a girl whose horoscope partners her with death and destruction thus making everyone blame her for any misfortune that befalls them. When her father decides she must choose a husband, she picks the mysterious man that promises to treat her as an equal and gets brought to his lands “between” the worlds. First off, I want to say that this book is beautifully written. The imagery drew me into the book and I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to cover it in sticky notes because it just had so many beautiful lines I wanted to remember. I also loved the fact that it drew on Indian mythology because it’s definitely a subject I don’t know that well, and this book definitely made me more interested in learning more about the folklore and mythology behind it so I could gleam all the little details I’m sure would just enhance the book more. I love a good romance, and I definitely loved the one between Maya and Amar. There wasn’t insta romance, and it was obvious that Maya’s love only grew because Amar took her as she was without wanting to change her, but nurtured her voice and helped her become the strongest person she could be. Romance isn’t the only thing the book excels at, and the relationship between Maya and her younger sister warmed my heart. With a flesh-eating demon horse that steals the show, beautiful prose that enchanted me with each phrase, I am eagerly awaiting the next story that Chokshi will pen. I definitely recommend this book to people that like: - Fantasy -The Wrath and the Dawn -Hades & Persephone/ Mythology
There are times when you come across a book that is so beautifully written that when you finish it your just like words...need more of the WORDS! The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi is exactly that kind of book. The writing is just absolutely gorgeous and elegant. Chokshi creates a stunning world steeped in magic and folklore. You will not want to put this one down. "I wanted a love as thick as time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones. I wanted the impossible..." Cursed with a horoscope that promises her marriage will be one of death and destruction, Maya has been shunned by her father's kingdom. Accepting that love may not be in the cards for her, Maya is content to pursue the scholarly life. However, her world is turned upside down when her father, the Raja, decides to give her hand in marriage for political reasons. On the night she is to select her future husband her father hands her a vial of poison and advises her to drink it. Before she can go through with drinking the poison, a strange prince convinces Maya to join him as his queen. Maya is a complex character. She's vulnerable and strong...fierce and gentle. I loved seeing her interact with her little sister. It is very clear that their sisterly bond is powerful and one of the few loving relationships that Maya has in her life. On the other hand, Maya's prince, Amar is a very stagnant character. I would have like to see his character developed more, he just felt very one dimensional for me. I would have liked to get to know him better, his thoughts, his secrets, what motivates him, etc. This story has a Hades and Persephone feel to it, so it is sort of a re-telling of sorts. At least it feels that way to me. I did love the romance within this story. I like that it doesn't have any love triangles or insta-love elements to it. The relationship between Maya and Amar is slow building. Maya does not trust her new husband, he has too many secrets that he withholds from her. Her inability to trust him keeps her from completely handing over her heart to him. Their love story is both heartbreaking and sweet. All in all, I absolutely loved this book. The writing was wonderful and captivating. Maya is one of my favorite characters I have met so far this year. Although I had some issues with the lack of development for Amar's character, this book did not disappoint. I found it hard to put down once I started it. Chokshi had my FEELS all over the place with this story and I can't wait to read more from this author. I highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys fantasy that is steeped in mythology.
A wonderful read for myself and my kid. Looking forward to the next book.m
A remarkable, entrancingly lyrical YA fantasy romance! “Who wanted to be smiled at by the girl that trailed shadows like pets, conjured snakes and waited for Death, her bridegroom, to steal her from these walls?” THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a remarkable, entrancingly lyrical standalone debut by Roshani Chokshi. I finished this tale almost two weeks ago and am still enthralled pondering it. Honestly, at first, I had trouble vesting in the story. But, I was intrigued enough to continue with it and am so glad I did as the story is infatuating. This tale is a fractured retelling of a mix of Indian folklore and mythology. The wording is so vibrant that it elicits vivid imagery. The writing is so richly descriptive that I read some of the illusions multiple times just to savor them over and over in my mind. As the story opens, we meet seventeen-year-old Maya, a princess of Bharata. Maya is believed to be cursed as her horoscope promises a marriage of Death and Destruction. When her father arranges for her to be married to stave off war on his kingdom, her suitor, Amar, whisks her away to a kingdom that she'd only thought to be real in the fairy tales she would recite to one of her younger sisters. Even though her new husband was not known to her, her mind would catch glimpses that he had actually been known to her before. Torn between what is real and what is not, the path of her discovery is rife with danger. One wrong step could spell disaster for her, her husband, their kingdom and the world. I really liked both of the primary characters, individually and as a couple. I could easily see relationship similarities with that of Persephone and Hades and also of Beauty and the Beast. Their story is heart-breakingly beautiful and it was not at all clear that Maya and Amar would find their way to each other. I have read that there will be a companion novel to THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN which will follow the adventure of two supporting characters in this book. I look forward to reading more from this author. She has illustrated in striking detail how fairytales and folklore cross cultural spectrums. I would recommend THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN to anyone who enjoys captivating expressively dramatic YA fantasy romances. My full review is posted at Reading Between The Wines Book Club. Please check it out there! 4 Wine Glasses!
This is a book that realized some of my fantasies. The Star-Touched Queen is a rare book that makes proud of its brilliant world building. I am really not into books with themes like TSTQ's but I'm really surprised to be drawn in by this book. The story is full of unexpected turns that will keep you turning page after page.
From the first page, I loved this story. Cursed and ostracized, Maya is at once charming and heartbreaking. I wanted to hold her hand and follow her through the story, and I'm not a hand-holding kind of girl. Wow. The language here is stunning and the world building is expertly done. Amar. Sigh. His words. Sigh. I seriously couldn't adore him more. It's hard to explain what this book did to me without spoilers, so I'll just say that I savored every page. I highly recommend this book. *I received an eARC of this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review and I honestly loved it so much that I bought a physical copy so I could pet it like a kitten. This one gets all the stars ***** and you need this book in your life.
Born with a horoscope that predicts a marriage of death and destruction, Maya is an outcast in the kingdom Bharata even though her father is the Raja. When his political machinations go horribly wrong, Maya finds herself married to Amar and queen of Akaran--a mysterious place filled with secrets and magic. Amar offers Maya the chance to rule at his side and become more than Bharata ever would have allowed. All he asks in return is her patience and trust which soon prove more than she can give. Maya's search for answers will lead her across worlds and through her own fragmented memories to discover surprising truths about her husband's kingdom and herself in The Star-Touched Queen (2016) by Roshani Chokshi. Chokshi's debut fantasy is filled with vivid and unexpected imagery as Maya discovers the wonders and dangers found in her new home in the Otherworld. Well-researched figures from Indian folklore and mythology, astonishing creatures, and expressive characters further complement this story. A setting drawn from ancient India, romance with feminist sensibilities, and a unique magic system make this a novel sure to appeal to fans fantasy both high and urban as well as retellings of myths from other cultures. Maya's narration is refreshingly unapologetic about her ambitions and her desire for independence. Although her distrust and doubts lead to the main conflict of the story, Maya is quick to own those mistakes and works to correct them even when it might be to her detriment. The Star-Touched Queen is a stunning debut filled with lush writing, smart characters, and a mysterious plot that provides as many twists as it does swoons. Sure to be the next big thing. Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn, A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston, Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld *A more condensed version of this review appeared in the March 2016 of School Library Journal as a starred review from which it can be seen on various sites online*
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** 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; Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
4.5 Stars I kept hearing about The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi but was unsure if it was for me. It sounded like it would either be amazing or awful, and nothing in between as to craft a world as detailed as necessary for the plot is not easy. I finally decided that the hype had to be there for a reason so I set to reading. And I am glad I did, as it tipped the amazing scale. Maya is a not-perfect girl born under a cursed sign. Set apart from others and shunned, she is surprised when she is told she will marry. Then Amar, king of Akaran comes to her and she is transported to a land she believed to be myth. As she waits to find the true reason she was brought to Akaran, a force from the past rises up and threatens everything Maya holds dear. I loved the plot of The Star-Touched Queen; it was unique and focused on such a strong female lead. The writing of Roshani Chokshi was lyrical. She placed such intricate details throughout it made for a super visual read. The world Chokshi created was extremely nuanced. I could picture the locations and feel the pulse of the residents. The pacing had a few very small issues. A few scenes seemed to drag a bit and a few others went too fast, but the overall experience worked for me. The characters in The Star-Touched Queen were so well crafted. I loved that Maya was not portrayed as a beautiful sheltered princess. She had unique looks, was extremely smart and stood up for what she believed in. Amar was strong as well, but he showed a distinct emotional range not typically found in YA young men. The emotions ran high throughout the The Star-Touched Queen. Extreme highs and lows balanced each other out and created a read that kept me constantly on edge in a great way. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi was such a different kind of YA read. It was so rich and had incredible depth. There were a few things I did not love but I am nit-picky and the things truly were small details. Most of it was in the pacing as some scenes just didn't seem to flow like the majority of the book, but that did not detract from my overall enjoyment. I would recommend The Star-Touched Queen just for the descriptions alone. - Original review @ 125Pages.com I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and it did not disappoint. I didn't want to put this book down for anything. I kept reading, even while I was at work and while my family was waiting for me to start dinner, and you guys... IT WAS WORTH IT! The Star-Touched Queen is a book of beautiful artistry and sophistication. I simply can't contain all of my feelings about it because it's just so amazing. Roshani's words are pure art and I loved every second of it. She combines Indian and Greek mythology into this incredible story of the main character, Maya, who just wants to find her place in the world. There are so many things to marvel at when it comes to The Star-Touched Queen. The otherworldly setting and the characters—it's all absolutely marvelous. Roshani's work is definitely going to be an auto-buy for me in the future. Full review: http://www.bookrambles.com/2016/01/the-star-touched-queen-by-roshani.html
One word? Wow. Excuse me while I just flail over how amazing this was. Not often have I been left breathless by a book. But that is definitely the case here. I'm not even sure what I can say that's not just gushing. This is by far my favorite read this year. Chokshi creates an immense and beautiful world in this re-imagining of the Hades and Persephone myth. Set in an Indian style culture (and let's face it, we need more books that use different cultures like this), we get such a vivid sense of the world. That's right, it's Greek mythology with an Indian setting. Which just makes it amazing. There are horoscopes and demons and a touch of magic to the mortal realm. But the magic comes in mostly in the Otherworld. I couldn't help but fall in love with this right away. Chokshi's writing is gorgeous. I found myself getting lost in the prose. I could have read another book or two about Maya and Amar. And while at times I wanted to smack Maya, I completely understood why she did what she did. The characters and the romance. Oh my feels. It was beautiful and captivating. This one deserves a reread. Or, if you haven't read it yet, a first read. I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers. But I will say that this book was everything I could have hoped for and more. Reasons to read this book: 1) You like fantasy. 2) You like beautiful writing and world-building. 3) You want to read about a romance to end the worlds. 4) You like your fantasy set in places other than medieval Europe. 5) You like a complex villain with a good backstory. Overall? Do you need to ask? I loved it! I would recommend it to anyone! Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I've had this one for a while and I wish someone would have forced me to read it sooner. Love love love Maya. She's an interesting MC in an interesting situation and I loved being in her head while she figured things out. And don't even get me started on Amar. This boy was slaying me with his words and he wasn't even trying. I reread almost every scene of them together. The world building is unlike anything I've ever read. It's lush and the prose is lyrical and I want to roll around in the words and never come back. This is easily one of my top books of 2016. I can't wait to see what Roshani creates next. **Huge thanks to St. Martin's Griffin and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**