Author: Roshani Chokshi
Date of Publication: 3rd May 2016
I think that a problem with YA fantasy is that a lot of the time you can feel like you’re reading the same book over and over again. Plot lines are reused, caricatures are recycled and romances are by the numbers.
The Star-Touched Queen was not remotely reused, recycled or by the numbers. Roshani Chokshi created here a beautiful tale to showcase her incredible talent: she spun her story in a way which I thought was so organic and warm, I was instantly drawn in.
Maya is a wonderful heroine – she is a product of her time but refuses to be bound by it. Her words, dress and beliefs are distinctly a part of her culture – and a very rich and telling portrayal of it – but her actions are those of a strong woman. When she makes mistakes, they make sense – she is not perfect. But she is compelling; something leading females in this genre don’t always achieve.
Her romance with Amar is beautiful and yet didn’t overwhelm me as a reader. I felt that there was just the right amount of fire and ice between them. I got a few Hades and Persephone vibes (think Receiver of Many) from their dynamic. Often I struggle with “destined” couples, as I feel like it’s easy to fall back on that in lieu of creating chemistry. However Amar and Maya seemed to slot together perfectly; another testament to the ability of the author.
However Chokshi didn’t just focus in on her main romantic relationship. Kamala was my favourite character, hands down (yes, the horse!) and I really loved that Chokshi used her bond with Maya as a way to create interest in what otherwise would have been a quest by numbers. It elevated the material – something the author seems skilled at doing. Maya’s conflict of personality with Kamala, whilst still understanding and accepting her, was only one element of what marked her as a rich character – yet it may have been my favourite.
It was also massively refreshing to have a villain who isn’t swept in at the last moment, isn’t a shadowy name on the lips of our protagonists until the end. There was mystery and fear but there was also a real purpose for the villain – not the most original one, perhaps, but one which gave the antagonist a depth which filled her actions with a weight they might otherwise not have had.
I can’t recommend this enough. If you love fantasy, you will love The Star Touched Queen.