Friday 26 May 2017

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Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani ChokshiThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (bought) - 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.
From Goodreads.

When I first heard about The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, I was drawn to the stunning cover first. Then when I read more about it, I was so excited to see it was a South Asian high fantasy, inspired by Hindu myths. And as it had been so hyped, I was prepared to be well and truly wowed by this book. Unfortunately, I wasn't.

The setting was gorgeous, the writing was beautiful, I loved that it was a retelling of the Hindu myth of Shiva and Parvati (as Hindu myths are not as widely known as myths from other cultures, if you don't know this myth, you may or may not want to look it up. Just know that if you do look it up, it will spoil the story in a pretty big way), and I loved the similarities to the Hades and Persephone (I don't know if Chokshi was inspired by/retelling this myth, too, however; I've looked it up, but I can't find anything from her saying one way or the other). What I didn't like so much was how very little happened for the majority of the story.

There is a reason for this, and it is explained. When Maya is in the Akaran and Amar's wife, they have to wait a full cycle of the moon before Maya can be told certain things about the kingdom and her role there. This is explained as the story goes on, and I can accept it to a certain extent, but why other things weren't happening while they waited, I don't know. So Maya spends her days exploring the palace and the wonders behind doors that will open to her, either alone or with Gupta, Amar's adviser and friend, while Amar is away for most of each day, doing who knows what - it's part of the secret Maya can't find out yet. But this equates to chapters and chapters of not much happening at all... until certain discoveries are made, and the pace is picked up massively, like a stone rolling down the hill, getting faster the more it rolls. But this doesn't start happening until two thirds of the way into the book. It took me 11 days to read this, because I simply didn't care. I wasn't interested because nothing was happening. The gorgeous setting and the beautiful writing wasn't enough to hold my interest.

And there were so many questions. Why were both Amar and Gupta physically unable to tell her the secrets of Akaran? I understood why they had to wait in the end, but not why they would find themselves in physical pain when they said something they shouldn't. And the magic in this book, how is it used? Where does it come from? Over most if not all magical thing that happens in this book, I have a question of how? That tree of memories, I understood what that was about, but how was that formed? And what was with all the mirrors that reflected other places? I never got what they were about. And what about the non-tutor thing that turned up just before Maya found out her father planned to marry her off? That was never touched on again! I also have questions about the past which I don't think were answered well enough.

Also, I had trouble believing the romance between Maya and Amar. Maya's feelings just seemed to come out of nowhere, once she saw his face. It wasn't instalove, but there was no real development of her feelings; she felt nothing, and then she did. I also never really felt I got to know Amar all that well either, which probably just adds to that. And after that last third, when suddenly everything is happening, it happens so fast. So fast. I almost feel like the first two thirds should have been cut down to one third, and the last third developed more into two thirds. And to cap it off, it ends so abruptly. Out of nowhere. There are cataclysmic scenes, and as they end, the book is over, just like that. I very much felt the book was missing an epilogue.

The setting is gorgeous, the writing is beautiful, and there is a wonder of humour and blood lust in the form of a demonic flesh-eating horse named Kamala - god, I loved Kamala (but again, she doesn't appear until the last third of the book!) - but there was so much of this book that was wanting. I wanted - I expected - more. And I was really disappointed. Saying that, I think I'm still going to read the companion novel, Crown of Wishes. I feel there's more scope for things to happen in the next book, and the world of these two stories is fascinating. Really hoping that Crown of Wishes is an improvement.

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Published: 28th March 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffen
Roshani Chokshi's Website

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  1. I agree with everything you've said. While I adored the world building and myths, I just wasn't on board with the romance, and struggled sometimes to understand what was going on. Still I'm also curious to read the next book :) great review!

  2. I personally loved this book because it was well written and intriguing and I can't wait to read the next book which I do actually own a copy of! Thanks for the honest and detailed review!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages