The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

the star-touched queenThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen #1)
Published April 26, 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin, 342 pp.
Summary:

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

How goes it?

The Star-Touched Queen is like cotton candy – fluffy, sweet, but when you bite into it there’s not much to it. Not to say that I don’t like books like this, because goodness knows I do, but if you’re expecting something epic, then maybe you’ll be a tad let down.
This is also a standalone, but will have other books in the same universe, so I’m looking forward to those! The world-building here is awesome, so even if this book isn’t my favorite, I’m looking forward to reading other books set in this universe!

The Star-Touched Queen is about Maya, a girl whose horoscope has apparently doomed her in the eyes of her father’s harem. She’s treated with disdain, if not outright derision, but if she’s lucky people just avoid her. Marriage was definitely out of the cards, until her father decides to marry her off in a bid to try and hold off invaders. At the very last minute, Maya is rescued and hauled off to Akaran by Amar. He rules over this kingdom that isn’t on this plane of existence, but any questions Maya asks that gets close to what it actually is or where it’s located are evaded by Amar. He promises her that after a month, she can have all the answers she wants, but until then she should make herself comfortable. As with any plucky heroine, Maya becomes a bit restless -she starts poking around, opening doors, and this gets the ball rolling. Because now she’s encountered Nritti, she knows what Akaran is, and she starts questioning everything Amar has (or hasn’t) told her.
I will tell you right now: the best part of this is the writing. The first part of this was slow, but the second part does try and make up for it. It depends entirely on the reader if they’ll find it worth the slower half, but if you ask me, not so much. But even if it does, it doesn’t take away the fact that I find that the writing is a bit like a smokescreen for a somewhat thin plot.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a story, but if you take away the writing it kind of falls flat. Like I kept on reading mostly because the prose is so, so pretty, and the world-building is ace. The world-building is what makes up most of the first part, but my thought process while reading it is like: coos over writing, read some more, and then kind of snap back to reality to see where I am. Only to find out not much has happened.
Before you judge me you guys, have a look at what Amar says to Maya:

“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.”

“I want to measure eternity with your laughter.”

 

Amar you smooth fellow. Seriously, I could’ve swooned but then I’m reminded that their romance, in this incarnation anyway, doesn’t have much basis. There are a lot of Indian elements in this, so there is the concept of reincarnation, and Amar has an advantage, since he knows who Maya is, but Maya herself doesn’t know. But somehow, along the way, she has convinced herself that yes, she is indeed in love with Amar.
The thing is, I can’t remember how or why she fell in love. Should I take her feelings as a result of reincarnation? Like somehow her feelings for Amar carried over from another life? They don’t interact much – I think I remember her talking and interacting with Gupta more often, but who can resist Amar when he says gems like “measure eternity with your laughter.”
The world-building is great – Bharata, Akaran, the characters – all come to life, thanks to the author’s writing, but the story doesn’t do them much justice I think. I liked the Hades/Persephone and Indian culture crossover, but — I just want more. Is it wrong to want more? Does that make me selfish?
I don’t mind much that we find ourselves in the middle of the story already, but what jarred me from reading it was the different terminologies used. Though there are context clues in the sentence, it’ll still make you stop and look again if you read it or got it right.
I know I said I didn’t mind landing in the middle of the story, but I would’ve loved to read more about Maya before the mess that was her betrothal happened. We got a brief look into it, but I hoped there would be more, because it’d give us a better understanding of Maya, like who she was as Maya, not just someone who was destined for Amar.
Anyway, the villain in this is Nritti, who, along with Irina from The Shadow Queen, is probably one of the most ineffective villains ever. If she had just got rid of Maya earlier (because she had the chance, she did) then she wouldn’t have had the headache of trying to come between Maya and Amar. If she’s so powerful that she managed to control and enchant an entire kingdom, where the hell was she all these years? Why didn’t she get her job done then?

TL;DR

3
Pretty prose, as in really pretty, that’ll distract you from a somewhat thin plot. There’s also great world-building, but the characters and plot are just okay. Read this if you want something light and fluffy (somewhat), with really interesting elements.
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