I was a little hesitant to read The Star-Touched Queen. I had high hopes for Roshani Chokshi’s newest book, The Gilded Wolves, which came out earlier this year. And unfortunately, that book fell short for me.
The Star-Touched Queen takes place in two fantasy kingdoms called Bharata and Akaran. When main character Maya turns seventeen, her father, the Raja of Bharata, seeks to marry her off in her order to bring peace to his kingdom. The land of Bharata believes in horoscopes, and Maya’s horoscope speaks of death and a doomed marriage. When Maya is forced to choose a husband, she chooses a cloaked king named Amar who takes her to his strange and empty kingdom of Akaran.
The story that follows is a blend of Hades and Persephone and Beauty and the Beast.
This book claims to be YA fantasy, and despite the almost-insta-love, I found it to be so much more than that. Chokshi’s writing borders on magical realism. She blends reality with mythology in a way that might annoy or confuse some readers. But it is Neil Gaiman-esque in a way that I love. Chokshi’s writing shines in her worldbuilding, magical descriptions, and in her dialogue. Her writing is otherworldly and atmospheric.
This book is full of Indian mythology and folklore, including strange creatures and reincarnation. Chokshi weaves kingdoms together and writes dark, death-like imagery, with large sprinklings of magic throughout.
I want to give this book 5 stars, but it’s not quite there. While I was completely absorbed by the story and the world, Maya and Amar’s characters are lacking. Maya’s main characteristic is that she no longers wants to be shunned, and she wants freedom. While I like this about her, I never felt like I had a full grasp of her personality, not to mention what she wants or doesn’t want in life. While Amar is an interesting character, again, I feel like Chokshi never gives him enough of a personality.
However, this is the first book in a series, so I hope later books give Maya and Amar a chance to build into rounder characters. However, I noticed that the next books in the series don’t even focus on Maya and Amar.
I loved this book, I just wish Chokshi’s character development was better!
VERDICT: 4 stars