When she was born, Maya’s horoscope said she would be a partner to Death and Destruction, but maybe there’s more to Fate than meets the eye… Read our 5 star review of The Star-Touched Queen!
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mayavati is an outcast in her father’s kingdom. His wives think she’s nothing but bad luck and causes death wherever she goes. Her mother wasn’t one of the Raja’s wives, but a courtesan who died in childbirth. Since then, Maya has lived within the castle walls yet she’s still separate from everyone else.
With war coming from all sides, Maya’s hand in marriage might be the only way for peace.
Fate (like the horoscope that told of her being partnered to Death and Destruction) has other plans, though…or does it?
The Star-Touched Queen is absolutely gorgeous and the language is stunning! It’s been so long since I’ve been immersed in a world like this one, and I didn’t want this book to end. It’s by far my favorite book of 2016!
We begin in Bharata, Maya’s home kingdom. We learn a little about her past growing up, but most importantly about her horoscope. Her people put a lot of stock into what the stars say about a person’s Fate, and Maya is said to be a partner of Death and Destruction.
Naturally, her people are superstitious, and she gets the blame for the bad things that happen in the kingdom, especially among the harem wives. If children die, Maya is to blame. If a sweating sickness comes through, Maya is at fault.
With her kingdom at war with so many others, her father, the Raja, sets up a marriage ceremony where all representatives from the other kingdoms will come and Maya will choose a husband.
Strange things begin happening to Maya around this time, a tutor with a shadow of a beast that tells her he’ll teach her about silence. Then, after she’s locked in her room, a demon that douses all the lights and laughs manically, taunting her.
On the night before the choosing ceremony, the Raja stops by Maya’s room and slips her a draught. He says that a marriage will not save their kingdom and the war will continue. The only way to save everyone is for her to take her life during the ceremony. He tells her earlier in the story, “A favored daughter is still just a daughter.” Even though, she’s one of his favorites, he won’t spare her life if it means saving the kingdom.
It’s in this ceremony that we meet Amar. (I ADORE Amar.) He’s quick witted and wears a hood covering his face. He explains that Bharata will be under attack even if she takes the draught because soldiers have been smuggled in by all the chariots.
Maya chooses Amar to be free of Bharata as soon as the fighting breaks out, and he promises her that the harem women will be protected, including her precious half-sister, Gauri.
This decision catapults Maya’s life into the amazing Otherworld and the Night Bazaar then finally Akaran. The kingdom she is ruling is made of silence and whispers, glass gardens, a tree that’s filled with memories, and so many mirrors and doors.
Amar can’t reveal the secrets until the new moon, which is an entire cycle away, so Maya is left in the dark.
Over the course of several weeks, she learns a little about her new home and her husband. He’s gone all hours of the night and sometimes day. She spends a good bit of time with Gupta, Amar’s council, but some time is spent exploring on her own.
Amar teaches her about the beautiful tapestry that spans the length of a wall in the throne room. Each thread is a life, and they must decide which ones to pull and when to determine the course of their lives. Some threads cannot be changed and are always set for the Otherworld.
Through this, voices call to her in the night, singing poems of warning about the man she calls her husband.
All the while, Amar is charming and wonderful. He’s truly a peak book boyfriend.
“You know nothing about me.”
“I know your soul. Everything else is ornament.”
“My star-touched queen,” he said softly, as if he was remembering something long ago. “I would break the world to give you what you want.”
The voice that calls to her in rhyming words lays the foundation for everything that comes to pass in the book. As the moon gets closer to being new and the secrets of Akaran are at her fingertips, it (Nritta) makes a move, destroying everything Maya has ever believed to be true.
With the help of a sassy, hilarious pishacha (demon horse) named Kamala, Maya will do whatever it takes to win back Akaran and reclaim her rightful place as Queen.
I cannot stress enough how much you need to read this book. It’s pure magic, and the prose takes you to a magical world. It’s steeped in Indian Mythology with a twist on the Hades/Persephone myth. I’ve never read a book before that feels like it could be stretched into a series but the author expertly crafts a stand-alone book that ties up EVERY loose end.
I’m truly in awe of Roshani Chokshi.
There will be a companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen that features a supporting character from it as the main character in the new novel. I want nothing more for it to be Gauri! She’s just as amazing as Maya.
The Star-Touched Queen is out today! Get your copy immediately!
Thank you so, so much to St. Martin’s Press for the advanced copy of this book!