Synopsis: 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.
Review: This is the story of Princess Mayavati and is told entirely from her point-of-view. The story is set in the ancient kingdom of Bharata.
Princess Mayavati or Maya is one of many daughters of the Raja(King) of Bharata. Although she is favored by her father, her life isn’t all hearts and roses. In the Kingdom of Bharata, horoscopes have the power to make or break opinions, and Maya’s horoscope predicted a grim outcome that left her ostracized by the entire court.
Maya lived an almost independent life at court until one day, when her father announced that she has to get married to prevent a war between neighboring rebel kingdoms. Maya is to be a pawn, like her half-sisters in the battle between kingdoms. Leave one gilded cage only to move to another one.
What I wanted was a connection, a shared heartbeat that kept rhythm across oceans and worlds. Not some alliance cobbled out of war. I didn’t want the prince from the folktales or some milk-skinned, honey-eyed youth who said his greetings and proclaimed his love in the same breath. I wanted a love thick with 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, which made it that much easier to push out of my mind.
Then, the king, like a loving and caring father offers Maya a way out of her forced impending nuptials: poison. Father of the year, he is not. Maya has no friends in the entire palace except her little half-sister, Gauri and thus, nobody can save her from death.
On the day of Maya’s engagement/wedding, Maya makes up her mind to drink the poison but is saved(?) by Amar, king of an unheard kingdom of Akaran. In the background, chaos breaks out, soldiers from the rebel kingdoms have ambushed the kingdom of Bharata and Maya has no choice but to flee with Amar.
Maya is stupefied. On the way to Akaran with Amar, she mentions her doubts about Akaran with Amar as in all her geography studies, Maya has never heard of Akaran. Then it dawns on Maya, Akaran really doesn’t exist, I mean it exists outside the realms of the mortal world. Maya and Amar have to travel through a beautiful but enchanting place called the Night Bazaar where there are supernatural creatures and things that only exist in dreams and nightmares. After resting in the Night Bazaar, Maya soon finds herself in the kingdom -her kingdom- of Akaran. Soon, Maya begins to realize Akaran is not what it seems.
Where are its people? Why does she have to pass all these tests to become the rightful queen of Akaran? What secrets are the doors of the palace (of Akaran) and her husband Amar hiding? To get the answers to all of your questions, please read The Star-Touched Queen.
Now, let’s talk about the writing. The world building is excellent. It is descriptive and reminds me of Sarah J. Mass’s writing. I found the dialogues between Maya and Amar swoon-worthy, but sometimes it was a bit much. I kept asking, why is Amar spouting such romantic proses for Maya? They just met! Although the answers to my questions are all revealed in the last chapters of the book, I found the romance a little forced. There is nothing steamier than kisses in this book. If you are hoping for ACOTAR sex scenes, you’ll be disappointed.
“Then what do you want form me?”
“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.” He moved closer and a chorus of songbirds twittered silver melodies.
“I want to measure eternity with your laughter.”
I was absolutely thrilled that this book had so many Indian mythology influences. I grew up listening to all the stories, and I was nostalgic and overjoyed at the prospect of reading a book like this.
Regarding the Hindu myths, there were many that had a direct influence on The Star-Touched Queen! I’m not sure if they’re familiar to many readers, but if not, I hope this list inspires you to seek them out and learn more about them 🙂
1. Savitri and Satyavan: This is a beautiful tale about a woman who outwits Death to save her husband’s life. I’ve always been intrigued by female characters whose strength comes from their mind and not just their muscle.
2. Shiva and Parvati: In the Hindu pantheon, Shiva is one of the main deities. He’s known as the Destroyer. His consort is Parvati, but she is a reincarnation of Sati. Reincarnation is a common motif in Hindu mythology, but what I loved about their story is how they found one another despite the obstacles.
3. The Ramayana: The Ramayana is one of the great Sanskrit epics (along with the Mahabharata). There’s an interesting scene where Sita (the wife of Rama, the main character, and also the reincarnation of Goddess Lakshmi) has to submit to a test of purity known as the “agni pariksha.” The scene is emotionally wrenching because it showed how rulers (even if they are divine!) fall prey to the rumors and suspicions of others.
4. Shakuntala: This is one of the great Kalidasa plays. What I loved about this tale is how memory can become a tangible thing, like a token that can be given.
5. Narasimha: One of my favorites! This is a tale about a demon king who performs severe penances to avoid death by making a list of conditions under which he cannot be killed. I loved this myth because it demonstrated how things could be interpreted. It made fate seem a little more pliable.
– Credit : Roshni Chokshi ( from Goodreads)
Overall, this a good Indian mythology-inspired young adult, fantasy book. This is a standalone in a series. I would recommend it but not without some reservations.
Verdict: This one gets 3½ out of 5 stars from me.
Author: Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen and A CROWN OF WISHES. Her middle-grade debut, ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME, released April 3, 2018, from Disney/Rick Riordan Presents. Her next young adult novel, THE GILDED WOLVES, is slated for Winter 2019. Chokshi’s work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She was a finalist in the 2016 Andre Norton Award and the Locus Top Ten for Best First Novel. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin ( Pan MacMillan)
- Publication Date: April 2016
- Paperback: 352 Pages
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