The Star Touched Queen is a lyrical piece of writing in which Chokshi weaves Indian mythology, a love story, and the necessity of trust (but also doubt) together.
Maya’s horoscope foretells only death and in a society where horoscopes can either make or break you, her future is bleak. Presented with that destiny, that her marriage will be full of death and destruction, she resigns herself happily to a life of books and secrets. However, the world has different plans as the Raja intends for her to marry, despite her horoscope. Wedded to Amar, who promises her a marriage of equality, Maya realizes that everything is not as it seems: not Amar, not Akaran (her new home), or even herself.
My absolute favorite thing about this book is the writing. Each sentence is lyrical and exquisite.
It snuck under my tongue like a bright candy, and voices-loud and soft, whispers and howls, of passion so grand that it tottered on the edge of mythic and sorrows so plangent they trailed their own shadows. (151)
The setting comes alive in your hands as Chokshi describes the sights, tastes, and worlds of the Night Bazaar, Akaran, and even Maya’s own home. Fitting with the beautiful language, the Indian mythology made the perfect partner, weaving a tale of mystical wonder. (Although can I just say that there were some points where I would re-read a sentence over and over again and really just have no idea what it was supposed to mean?) But let’s put that aside, acknowledge the glorious wonder of the writing, and move on to the substance of the book.
Who wanted to be smiled at by the girl that trailed shadows like pets, conjured snakes and waited for Death, her bridegroom, to steal her from these walls? (13)
In terms of characters, I enjoyed Maya’s wit and intelligence. She might not have all the answers, but she was cunning and compassionate. Being able to emphasize with her betrayal, Maya was relatable to me and even more so at the end (in the middle I fell a little off the team Maya bandwagon). But even Maya lacked a little in terms of quirks or personality traits which made her seem real.
While I felt like I knew what motivated her and her emotions, her personality is very story driven, and there’s few moments devoted to her other traits. I also enjoyed, and felt a little frustrated at some points, that the movement of the story is left a secret. We do not know what the big reveal is or where the plot is going, so there is a degree of listlessness, but once we do, it’s a wonderful twist at the end that ties the story together.
Side character-wise I really loved the relationship Maya had with both Gauri, her half-sister, and Kamala, a very wry horse. She is incredibly protective and loving to her sister and these are extremely heart-felt moments. With Kamala, she is entirely different: quick on her feet and they have a relationship that is more akin to friendship than any other relationship in the book. These moments made Maya’s character shine through her actions and rounded her out, as a character.
My main gripe was with Amar – everything Amar-like. First off, I did not get a sense of him as an individual character at all. He was instantly in love with her, and I get the reasons behind it, but he never had any quirks or even real personality traits: he loves her – and that’s it. Additionally, I couldn’t buy the romance between them. I am a huge believer in the idea that shared interests give a relationship ground, as well as communication. Theirs seemed to lack both. We never see them have a conversation about shared interests or real communication at all.
Overall, this is worth a read if not for its Indian mythology, or for its evocative writing, but for an entertaining and enjoyable storyline, despite its flaws. You can pick it up here, add it to Goodreads, or visit the author’s site.
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