Book Review: The Star Touched Queen

Book Review: The Star Touched QueenThe Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1) by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 342
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org
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two-stars

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.

Wow. From the minute I started reading The Star-Touched Queen I was ensnared by what felt like an exotic and unique version of a familiar fairytale. All signs pointed to greatness. Unfortunately, the book went in a completely different and strange direction as a result of catastrophic decisions of the heroine, Maya. I love where this book started and the direction I thought it was going; however, I did not like where the book ended up and how it got there. I am not sure how this book started out so promisingly, only to dissolve into Maya making a crap ton of stupid choices. I thought the book would detail Maya coming into her own, conquering her cursed horoscope, becoming a queen worthy of ruling the Otherworld by defeating some evil and saving the day. Instead I got a heroine, who though incredibly book-smart and able to make astute judgement on her father’s government of his kingdom, could somehow not even manage to consider the horrible consequences of her own actions.

 

When the book began, Maya was a strong-willed princess who loved to read and hid in the rafters to overhear her father, the Rhaja’s important meetings. Shunned by the other women of her father’s harem and cursed with a horoscope that destined her to partner with death, Maya loses herself in telling stories of the Otherworld to her younger sister, Princess Guara. With war brewing, Maya was forced to say goodbye to her sister and her chances at being a spinster princess who lives contentedly among her books. Instead, Maya must not only marry one of the enemy kingdoms’ suitors to prevent wars, but she also must poison herself, at the behest of her father, to prevent the other kingdoms from being angry at their suitors not being chosen by the princess for marriage.

It all happened exceedingly fast and readers weren’t even given time to get to know the kingdom Maya resigns herself to save at all costs. I think the book could have truly benefited from more world building. There simply was not enough delving into the world Maya inhabited before entering the strange Otherworld, which is really just a supermarket hodgepodge of chimeras that echoed the stories that Maya briefly told her sister Guara. It seemed like one second Maya was making up stories and then “poof,” they were actually real and she was living in them. If I knew more about Maya’s kingdom, I might have cared more about her saving of it. But instead, it was hard to care about the imminent destruction of the kingdom filled with a Harem that hated and abused her, and a leader/father who ordered his own daughter’s death. Big whoop.

 

Luckily, before Maya has the chance to kill herself, a special suitor, Amar, appeared and whisked her away to his kingdom, which turns out to be the Otherworld. I loved enigmatic Amar and the mystery surrounding his palace. I was enthralled by the idea of its magic tapestry which held the threads of souls and their fates. I loved the beautiful writing and the rich imagery. But then, the heroine went and came down with such a major case of stupid that it was impossible to ignore. And not just any old case of stupid, but ruin-the-entire-universe-stupid. In fact, Maya was SO stupid that it was almost impressive. Sigh.

 

And I can’t help but wonder if Amar knew his wife and her stupidity at all. He stated, “My Kingdom needs a queen….It needs someone with fury in her heart and shadows in her smile. It needs someone restless and clever. It needs you.” But honestly, Maya was the COMPLETE opposite of clever, which sets her apart from her counterparts, such as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

 

Like Maya, it was hard to feel a lot of sympathy for Amar in the course of the book. The way he showed up as a masked suitor, claimed to love Maya after waiting for her for a long time, and then whisked her off to the Otherworld, just didn’t work for me. Maya had to marry and might die in the battle over her marriage that broke out, so she had absolutely no choice but to go with Amar and wed him. This wasn’t exactly my idea of romance. But like many young adult books, the two still manage to kiss very early on, despite very little time spent together and her growing distrust of him.

 

Plus, it was very frustrating that Amar couldn’t tell his wife anything about what was going on his castle until the full moon. His silence on important matters due to the curse/enchantment/whatever in combination with his abrupt and secretive comings and goings made him and his intentions appear very shady. Though Amar was upfront about his inability to speak of what was behind the doors, he didn’t do a very good job of keeping Maya busy and distracted from her curiosity. Plus, View Spoiler »

 

But neither was Maya’s lack of communication about dangerous forces with her husband or the only other person in the castle, Gupta. Magic palace with dangerous doors that open to other, sometimes evil worlds with creatures that can be let loose into your own? Why not obsess over the creepiest door, which was locked with chains and whispers some seriously disturbed stuff to you all of the time? Why not keep the whisperings of this door a secret? Why not hunt down this door, which was wrapped in chains, and break said chains? Why not open it, despite all earlier warnings by your husband, who loves you?

 

DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND LIKE A GOOD IDEA? NO.

BUT MAYA THOUGHT ALL OF THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA AND OPENS IT.

 

And to top off Maya’s terrible decision-making,View Spoiler » And on Maya’s consequent journey to fix all of this mess, and to save her husband and his realms from the aforementioned psycho ex-best friend, we found out that View Spoiler » I wondered, was the reason the book called “The Star-Touched Queen” because she was touched in the head?

 

Regardless, Maya’s quest to fix her wrongs was even stranger than her past reasoning. I did not foresee Maya’s deal with a flesh-eating demon in the form of a horse, named Kamla, and riding out to free her husband from the evil spell of Nritti. If you told me that this book involved a pact being sealed by way of a flesh-eating demon devouring Maya’s hair, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s just plain weird. Did I mention that the horse only helped her out of desire to eat Maya’s flesh and that Maya readily agreed? What’s worse, is that no one, not even Nritti, Guara, or Amar, can recognize Maya anymore as a result of her “haircut.” UM, REALLY? As a huge fantasy book reader, anime and Korean drama watcher, and gamer, I didn’t think there was much out there that was too weird for me, but this book really proved me wrong!

 

I won’t pick up the second book in this series, I simply do not care about what happens to Maya or her family, husband, or crazy ex-best friend. But if you’re a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast or other fairy tales or retellings of fairy tales, you might enjoy this book for its sheer unique approach. But I prefer my heroines with a brain, my worlds well-built, and the romance slow-burning and well-developed. If you are looking for any of those things, look elsewhere.<br>

two-stars
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Posted March 15, 2017 in Book Reviews, Young Adult

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