On the blog today is a review for this rather lovely book by Roshani Chokshi. Set in a luxurious kingdom lush with Indian mythology, elegant writing and a mystery, The Star Touched Queen is, without a doubt, a beautiful book. It is a recent diverse read in my collection and I was so thrilled to have it in my hands. The story follows Maya of Bharata who is whisked away by the mysterious Amar, made Queen of an unknown realm and starts to uncover secrets within the palace.
This book was so hyped to the point that I was expecting a deity to bless me when I opened the pages. But I honestly only have three words: beautiful, messy, frustrating. The book is focused on Maya, daughter of a Raja and cursed with a horoscope that brings death. Within the walls of her father’s palace, she isn’t well received at court. The harem wives detest her and all except one child, Gauri, don’t communicate with her (mostly because the wives don’t want a cursed woman to rub off on their kids). When the Raja plans to have Maya married off, it all becomes mystical from there.
First off, the writing was beautiful, almost a tad flowery at times, but still remarkable and elegant. It weaved together Indian mythology and the colours of the story perfectly. This is the first Indian themed novel I have read and it was honestly a fascinating read.
The mystery was thrilling – I enjoyed reading Maya’s thoughts as she unravel the secrets of Akaran. It was magical. From the glass garden, tapestry of fated threads and walking on stars, Maya is living the dream. However, there are creatures that walk the halls of the Akaran and we see the novel take a dramatic turn that has Maya fighting to save her kingdom.
“I know emptiness. I know the taste of blood against my teeth. I know what it is to fill your belly with iron. I know hunger. I know pain. I know memories that won’t stay. I know the ghost of life and the perfume of souls.”
I also loved the concept of reincarnation and its exploration in the novel, especially with Maya’s character towards the end of the novel. The idea of destiny was heavy throughout The Star Touched Queen, but I liked how the stars can be interpreted differently to what they were originally. It makes a case for changing one’s fate or path in life. However, I did find that some of the magical things happening at Akaran were rather confusing, like the tree of memories and its significance to the story. Towards the end, the events became intangible and it would have been better to have more explanation to understand the weight of the moments and what it meant to the characters.
“My star-touched queen,” he said softly, as if he was remembering something from long ago. “I would break the world to give you what you want.”
I want to talk about the insta-love Amar has for Maya though, which is somewhat awkward at first. It was also confusing because Amar’s actions were very romantic to the point where it was weird. But with the explanation in the second half of the novel, it ties together Amar’s feelings for Maya and why he acted the way he did. Amar wasn’t a favourite of mine though. I’m not a fan of male protagonists who are cloaked in mystery and hidden agendas. Also, the romance lacked the spark I wanted – it felt so detached because of Maya’s initial feelings and from then on, it felt like an inevitable love that wasn’t so warmly greeted. I did love her relationship with Gauri though, simply because it felt genuine and the sisterly bond was lovely.
Speaking of Maya, I found her to be rather whiny and frustrating. Her personality just didn’t appeal to me. She makes foolish decisions and acts like a child (like the whole thing with Nritti, oh my goodness). She also placed her trust in the wrong people for reasons that don’t make sense. Despite this, she has moments of strength and bravery when she tries to fix the wrongs she created in the Night Bazaar, and those moments were great.
Special mention to the flesh-eating horse Kamala because oh my goodness, he was absolutely hilarious and gave the book the comic relief it needed. I also loved the cloud weaving elephant because cloud weaving.
And in the words of Kamala, “It is nice to be nice, and it is also nice to eat people.”
Let me know your thoughts on the book below! I’d love to talk about it.
Until next time!