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.
Written by Roshani Chokshi
Published April, 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Provided by: Netgalley
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Re-Incarnation
Purchase: The Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia
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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.
It’s with a whole lot of regret that I tell you I didn’t enjoy The Star-Touched Queen. A confusing storyline, overly purple prose and an unsatisfying ending was what waited for me within the pages of this one. Not even that beyond beautiful cover was enough to save this one.
“I see only night and smoke, dreams and glass, embers and wings. And I would not have you any other way.”
The heroine of The Star-Touched Queen is Maya; a princess cursed with a terrible ‘horoscope’ that promises death and destruction. Because of this horoscope, Maya is shunned by her half-sisters and brothers, as well as the harem wives that live within her palace. Her only friend is her teeny eight-year old half-sister, Gauri, who she loves spinning tales to of a night.
I never really warmed up to Maya. From the beginning we are given hints that she has some sort of power, but instead of leaving me intrigued, it left me confused. The time at the palace was slow and uneventful, and I found myself not wanting to pick up the book again whenever I left it. I couldn’t see where the story was going, nor did I particularly care at that point.
Things changed, however, when Maya is whisked away from near-death at the hands of Amar – a mysterious prince from a kingdom Maya has never heard of. For some reason, Amar hides his face (something I never really understood, either…) yet Maya is – yep, you guessed it – drawn to him, and the two promptly marry to save her skin.
Somewhere between Maya’s tours around the new, mysterious palace that is her home and the unexplained leavings of her new husband, I was reminded of Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge and A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I preferred the latter to the former, but I felt as if The Star-Touched Queen became something like an imitation of their stories… an unsure princess trying to find her place in the world, all while navigating this new kingdom she’s a part of…
“The worms do not take heed of caste and rank when they feast on our ashes,” the Raja said. “Your subjects will not remember you. They will not remember the shade of your eyes, the colors you favored, or the beauty of your wives. They will only remember your impression upon their hearts and whether you filled them with glee or grief. That is your immortality.”
The problem was; there were just too many questions that didn’t get answers in time. For a vast majority of the book, I was confused. Whenever something was ‘revealed’, I found I didn’t quite get it. There was also a lot of zany ‘mythological’ stuff I never really bought into, too. Take the cloud-knitting elephant, for one.
To my relief, things picked up around the 60% mark… but I don’t know if I was actually enjoying what I was reading, or if I was just more relieved that the pacing had increased. One thing was clear, however… I was not invested in the characters or the forced romance between Maya and Amar.
Maya was incredibly gullible. For a character that was meant to be ‘strong’ and ‘powerful’, she was easily influenced and prone to suspicion. I never related to her, nor did I enjoy the choices she made throughout the entirety of The Star-Touched Queen. I saw no character development, only Maya’s final realisation that she had, in fact, been an idiot when it came to decision-making.
“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.”
I’ve also never been a fan of the whole ‘re-incarnated lovers finding each other again’ schtick. To my disappointment, that’s kind of what The Star-Touched Queen ended up being. A big ol’ story of lovers finding each other again, just with some pretty dressing up in the way that Maya and Amar are the rulers of the ‘Otherworld’, deciding fates on their magical tapestry and choosing who get’s re-incarnated as what.
Certain elements of this story were really unique and intriguing, but sadly it got bogged down by the disjointed storyline and almost-stifling descriptive writing. We were constantly being force-fed descriptions about jewel tones, glass fruit, silken skies and what have you. Don’t get me wrong, I love my lavish descriptions, but there is a limit. This limit was reached with this book a thousand times over, to the point where it felt like it was trying too hard to be pretty.
As for the storyline itself; it just didn’t flow. Maya’s whisked away to Akaran… Maya is unhappy in Aakaran… Maya is mortal again… Maya decides to re-visit her former kingdom in disguise… Maya regrets decisions she made… YOU GET THE IDEA.
When things finally come full circle and we’re given the whole picture, I was a little more satisfied… but I found it was too little, too late. The ending was quite anti-climactic and I’m still scratching my head in confusion over a few things (like why Amar hid his face in the beginning, damnit!).
This is one of those tricky books… some people adore it, some people flat out didn’t. I seem to fall in the latter party. I think you’re going to have to make up your own mind about this one, and see if the story of Maya and her talking demon-horse (yep, there’s a demon horse) floats your particular boat.