THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN
By: Roshani Chokshi
One Word-Emoji Review: 🤷🏻♀️
Synopsis: 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.
This is a really difficult book to review. And after thinking about it for over a week, I’ve come to the conclusion that it just wasn’t for me. The fact that this book is diverse and own-voices made me really want to fall in love with it. It’s so rare to come across books like that, especially based on Indian mythology and folklore. I myself am not Indian – I’m Pakistani – but there were so many aspects of this book that I could relate to: the clothing, the food, some of the cultural aspects, even some of the Hindi phrases used in this book…But overall, this book felt too similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury. If you are a fan of that series, then you’ll probably enjoy this book, but if you’re like me and you didn’t…well…I would still give this a try. The writing is beautiful (though at times too much), the setting is unique, the mythical creatures and stories interesting…the romance is something that you’ll either love or you won’t, but I still enjoyed parts of this book enough to rate it a 3 stars.
WHAT I LIKED
Okay, this isn’t a spoiler, but I would like to say that the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous 😍😍😍 I kind of wish I got a physical copy (though I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would) instead of the ebook version, just so I could take pics of it for Instagram lol 😂 The colours, the typography, the stars…it’s just beautiful!
I mentioned diversity above in my non-spoiler section, but I wanted to repeat it here again. I LOVED IT! It’s one of the main reasons why I rated this book a 3 stars. The clothing, the food, the culture…was so similar to my own that it made me smile whenever Roshani described the colour of Maya’s sari or what she was eating. I COULD RELATE TO IT AND IT WAS AMAZING!
The writing…to describe it in one word I would have to say atmospheric! Roshani’s prose is so descriptive and lyrical that I felt like I was actually in this magical setting! The only thing I didn’t like was that at times it became too much. I had to sometimes reread a paragraph to understand what was going on, and at other times, the descriptions seemed to drag. But overall, I really enjoyed the writing!
There were two scenes that really stood out to me and were probably key in me rating this book a 3 stars. The scene when Maya sees her father in Akaran and when Maya and Gauri have their little moment in the jungle after Gauri escapes. Both those scenes almost brought tears to my eyes, and I definitely felt my heart clench (aka the author did a good job cause that usually doesn’t happen!). The moment with Maya’s father was bittersweet. It was nice to see them conversing with each other and to see Maya forgive her father for his faults. The scene with Gauri was pretty much me yelling at my phone and telling Maya to reveal who she was, but I did like the way it went. Maya’s last words broke me:
“Don’t you remember? We can always find each other in our same constellation. The Solitary Star.”
Speaking of Gauri…her character has probably got to be my favourite! I love how independent and strong-willed she is! I mean she destroyed all the stereotypes of her culture to become a soldier and fight for her people! It’s just AHHHH – I can’t wait to read A Crown of Wishes!
My other favourite character has to be Kamala! She’s sassy, likes to eat people, and made me LOL so many times. Did I mention she’s a horse?! Yeah! She’s got to be one of my favourite horse characters in a book! The scene when Maya is talking to Gauri in the garden was just hilarious!
“The best motivation is love,” I offered.
Beside me, Kamala nodded vigorously. “And food!”
“Is your horse ill?” asked Gauri.
“No, not at all,” I said and smacked Kamala on her flank. “She’s eager.”
“For blood,” said Kamala.
Basically, Kamala is US 😂😂😂
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
This book is a diverse version of A Court of Thorns and Roses. I don’t want to be rude, cause I absolutely adore Roshani Chokshi as a person, but this book was waaay too reminiscent of the plot and characters from SJM’s series! But like I said above, if you are a fan of those books, then you’ll probably enjoy this series. I think if I was a fan, I would probably still have issues with this book because of the similarity, but I digress…
We have the typical plot line where a girl gets whisked off to a different world by a mysterious, handsome man. She’s not allowed to do anything, go anywhere, or touch anything. On top of that, she can’t ask questions because answers make for bad stories. She discovers she has powers, which she somehow masters without an instruction manual. She falls in love with the man, then ends up not trusting him, ruining everything, realizing her mistake, and then trying to make up for it. Aka… pretty much the plot of ACOTAR.
Amar is literally Tamlin. He hides his face behind his hood (or mask) just because he needs to add mystery to the whole plot-line. He disappears all the time to deal with “stuff”. He constantly tells Maya to go to her room cause it’s too dangerous. Also, he has this temper…SPEAKING OF THIS – WHY DO ALL MALE CHARACTERS IN BOOKS HAVE TEMPERS. Like Maya does something wrong, or says something different, and Amar snarls or growls??!! Also, what romance? I literally felt nothing. Even the flashbacks of Maya’s other lives with Amar – remember the scene where she’s dancing and he shows up saying he’s a painter and it progresses waaay too quickly?? It made no sense.
Amar also gave me Rhysand vibes – especially with the whole “he’s not who he seems to be” plot line where Maya thinks he’s going to kill her and so she betrays him, but it turns out that he’s actually a great guy and he was only doing what he thought was best 🙄. Also, the darkness and shadows that seem to swirl around Amar, his obsession with astronomy, etc. was just too Rhysand. I know this book was written before ACOMAF, but literally this was way too similar.
Gupta was the loyal servant Lucien. He did what he was told. Befriended Maya and kept her company. And also didn’t give her any answers.
Nritti is Amarantha. She decides to enact revenge on Maya and Amar cause she lost her lover. She goes all evil and crazy. Takes over The Night Bazaar (aka Under the Mountain). Kills innocent children. But then in the end, she’s defeated somehow because of Maya’s powers. I really hated Nritti. She was kind of thrown into the book half-way through and Maya immediately trusts her more than Amir. Though tbh I don’t understand how she trusts either of them – if I was Maya, I would have demanded to be taken back to the human world and left there to fend for myself.
I get the whole plot-twist of the “previous lives”, but it just didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s because it’s something that I don’t believe in or maybe it’s because it just didn’t feel convincing. Like I get Maya feels a connection to Amir (I FELT NOTHING, but let’s be nice here) and to Nritti. And so that’s why she trusts them both, though at different times…but I don’t know. The romance was terrible. Honestly, the romance in ACOTAR/ACOMAF was more believable. And Maya’s character annoyed me like Feyre. She doesn’t do much except make the wrong decisions and then fumbles her way to the ending.
I feel like this review went from me being super nice to extremely savage and I’m sorry. I was just really disappointed in this book. I was expecting a more unique plot, with main characters who I actually liked. Instead, I feel like I got handed ACOTAR all over again, and fell in love with a side character and a horse.
I’m still going to read A Crown of Wishes though! Mostly because I love Gauri’s character. I just hope there isn’t instalove and her relationship with Vikram is more believable than Maya and Amar’s relationship. Also, this book better not be a re-write of ACOMAF cause then I’ll be really, really disappointed 🙈