Goodreads: The Star-Touched Queen
Series: The Star- Touched Queen #1
Published: April 26, 2016
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.
Note: There are no major spoilers in this review, However, I do hint at the general plot structure, so if you like reading books completely blind, you might not want to read the review.
Written in compellingly beautiful prose, The Star-Touched Queen brings readers to a world where fates are written in the stars and hints of magic drift throughout the human world. Protagonist Maya has never liked what the stars say about her, however, until a mysterious suitor teaches her to reinterpret their prophecy, rather than attempt to rebel against it. Together the two have to trust it is their fate to belong to each other. The Star-Touched Queen is fantasy romance nearly at its finest.
Although the story draws on Indian folklore, the book actually reminded me of other YA books that draw inspiration from European fairy tales. The general plot structure actually has similarities with the “Beauty and the Beast” story arc, and the opening chapters with Maya as a new lady in a new palace reminded me a lot of A Court of Thorns and Roses. There are also moments that made me think of Cruel Beauty, and occasionally Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Chokshi explains on a Goodreads which tales she drew inspiration from, and I am admittedly not familiar with them. However, to me the book read as structured like a standard YA book, and it was the atmosphere and the details that truly made the novel stand out.
Because the book is heavily romance, it relies on a tried and true YA plot structure that adds some “drama” to the love story. I am not a fan of this particular cliched story line, but otherwise the romance is strong. Love interest Amar has a number of deliciously swoonworthy lines, which admittedly I find difficult to believe any real person would say with any seriousness. Amar gets an exemption, however, for being a character in a fantasy novel and for not being a teenager. (We’re in paranormal romance territory here, so think along the lines of Edward and Bella. Edward isn’t exactly a teen.) I really was rooting for Amar and Maya as a couple and enjoyed reading (and sighing) about their relationship.
Though I would argue the focus is on eros, the story also delves into other types of relationships, giving it some depth: parent/child relationships, sister bonds, and friendships. Maya seems to like thinking of herself as a strong, independent young woman (nothing wrong with that), but it is nice to also see her learn to love and rely on others. I would love to see some more of these relationships highlighted in the sequel, though it seems to be more of a companion novel about one of the sisters.
The Star-Touched Queen is a charmingly beautiful story that will appeal to readers of romance and lovers of fairy tales. Though the exact tales that inspired the author might not be familiar to everyone, the themes of true love, finding yourself, and learning how to make the right decisions will be.