Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen, #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 26th 2016
Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, is full of gorgeous and breath-taking imagery, but fell short when it came to having a clear, structured plot. Maya has always been an outcast, defined by a doomed horoscope since birth. Most regard her with superstition and distrust, viewing her as a walking omen. For Maya, this works in her favor, beside her younger half-sister, Gauri, there is no one in the whole of Bharata that she’d like to spend time with. But inside Maya wants more. Tired of being defined by so-called fate, she plunges head first into the strange world of Akaran, where she is promised the power to define her own future. But her own ambition and need to prove herself threaten to become her downfall.
While I really liked Maya’s character arc, it became a guessing game for a large portion of the novel, as I tried to figure out what its main conflict was. Bharata was on the brink of war when Maya left for Akaran and her disappearance becomes a catalyst, but as time plays tricks in this mysterious kingdom, we as readers are left in the dark, waiting for something significant to happen with the overall plot of the story. It isn’t until we are nearing the end of the novel that we learn of Bharata’s fate. While not a long novel, it did feel like I had to wait an awfully long time for the story to actually take off. I also had a hard time feeling invested in Amar’s character. Though Maya is spellbound by him and their relationship is meant to feel like destiny, there are certain elements at play that kept me from truly understanding his character and looking back, I still don’t feel like I got to know him as much as I did Maya. If more time had been devoted to his own character development, I think I would have liked reading about the evolution of their relationship more.
The kingdom of Akaran itself is a rich and enchanting setting. There are mysteries behind every door, entities lurking about that aren’t quite what they seem, and magic that is at once awe-inspiring as well as frightening. The Star-Touched Queen plays with the idea of fate versus free-will: are our choices ours or have they already been determined? Chokshi’s writing is otherworldly and at times I had to pause just so I could admire the way she uses language to paint such a lovely and vivid picture of this world. There’s such potential in her writing, I’m fairly confident the next book will be an improvement upon this one. There’s a specific minor character in this novel that I felt more drawn to than the protagonist. Her story seemed really interesting and compelling, despite knowing very little of her journey. If you’ve read the synopsis to the follow-up novel, A Crown of Wishes, you’ll know who I’m referring to. I wasn’t sure about this novel getting a sequel, but knowing who it will be focused on makes me pretty excited about it.