The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #1
Published April 26th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
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.
Having read multiple Roshani Chokshi’s books, her writing has always drawn my attention. She has a way with words and beautifully described the many rooms in the palace which shone with light and marvel. Also, Roshani Chokshi described the emotions of the characters amazingly. The rich and lyrical prose added so much to the magical element of The Star-Touched Queen.
This Hades and Persephone retelling, embedded with Hindu mythology, started off with mayhem. The world is already in war and surrounded by death. Maya’s life in her father’s palace isn’t good. She’s mistreated by everyone of her “destined” horoscope, and that has determined her future. She’s the bringer of all things horrible: Death, destruction, miscarriage, sickness. All of it are her fault and her father’s harem of wives and court never failed to let her forget that.
Even though Maya suffered from verbal abuse and the viciousness of the harem, she’s still brave and unrelenting. Despite gaining feelings for Amar, Maya was still lucid enough to think for herself. Knowing full well that Amar is hiding secrets, she’s determined to find out about them. I have to admit, though, that Maya is impulsive too which led to many dire consequences.
“The truth,” said Amar, taking a step closer to me, “is that you look neither lovely nor demure. You look like edges and thunderstorms. And I would not have you any other way.”
As for Amar, with so many secrets, there’s no knowing if he could be trusted. There were moments whereby he seems despicable and the things he said increased the suspicions of him being the villain. But there were also moments that made by heart swoon. He may be somber, quiet and secretive but his adoration for Maya is genuine.
Feelings developed quickly between Maya and Amar that borders insta-love. Still, I enjoyed it greatly.
Although both are in the same duology, The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes can be read as standalone. There’s a little bit of connection between the characters but overall, the stories stand on its own in terms of plot. If you’d like, continue on with the next book’s review.
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2
Published March 28th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…
She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.
Vikram was invited to the Tournament of Wishes by the Lord of Wealth and Treasures. The prize? The winner gets their wish granted. Terms and conditions apply. Of course, the characters go through a series a trials to become the winners.
The only thing that Vikram lacked was a partner, and it so happens that the princess of Bharata, Gauri, was thrown over the Ujijian border and is now in their prison. Despite their differences, their common goal is to win this tournament and get their wishes granted. Gauri wants to remove her despicable brother from the throne while Vikram desires that his father’s council accept him as the heir of the Ujijian kingdom.
A story had no ownership. A story could break its bones, grow wings, soar out of reach and five out of sight int he time it took just to draw breath. It meant we weren’t walking a cut path. We carved it into existence with every step.
Gauri and Vikram’s romance started out with them clashing words. While Vikram’s more fascinated yet indifferent, the more blood-thirsty one is Gauri. Through the various trials, the couple started to realise each other’s fears, desires and dreams. What they are trying to accomplish will need their joint cooperation but a sacrifice ahead might just destroy everything between them.
With Maya’s whereabouts unknown, Gauri started to become wary of magic and everything that came with it. Oftentimes Gauri’s first instinct is to control the situation but gradually, the unpredictability of the world of Alaka and its rulers started to complicate things.
This close, her eyes shone like fragments of night sky. If he looked closer, he wondered whether he’d see stars burst into life behind her lashes.
Where Gauri is suspicious, Vikram is more trusting and faithful of the people around him. From the beginning, he has always let his heart lead the way. Though he might be a little unguarded, Vikram always uses his mind and wit to keep himself safe.
Not only do we get both of the main characters’ chapters, a vishakanya has her own too. Aasha, whose touch is toxic, feeds on desires of others in order to fend off the poison in her veins. However, all she wanted was to be free of all the things that came with being a vishakanya, and she finds her own fate intertwined with Gauri and Vikram’s in the game.
“You are surprisingly lovely.”
“You are unsurprisingly insulting.”
Roshani Chokshi’s writing is lyrical and beautiful. It flows smoothly and added so much flavour into the plot creation and description of the world. Furthermore, the author’s choice of words enhanced the dangers and sweetened the romance. Her ability is phenomenal and a treat to all.