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.
Loosely based on Indian mythology and the story of Hades & Persephone, The Star-Touched Queen spins a tale of a woman partnered with Death, and a strong bond of love between them that stretches through all of her past lives. After a crushing betrayal casts her out of Akaran, Mayavati and her only companion, a horse named Kamala, must retrace the steps of fate that will lead them back to the Otherworld and bring back balance to the realm of the dead.
This is one of those books that relies heavily on the prose, but is weak on the story. The beginning is a confusing and unexplained mess, and it felt like being thrown into the middle of the story instead of the first chapter. In just the first 10 pages, so much is introduced without any context. Someone died? What’s the relevancy of this? Why is it important? How did Maya kill her? What are horoscopes? How come we never hear about anyone else’s horoscopes, only how terrible Maya’s is? Is there anyone in this goddamn palace besides the Raja, his daughter, this harem of cruel wives, and some guards? There were too many unanswered questions and a story that moved too fast to address any of these people or the events happening. It was captivating, as far as mythological tales go, but it was difficult to connect with anything that went on. I didn’t care enough about any of the people for any of their struggles to impact me at all, especially when they were poorly fleshed out and little more than foils of each other.
Even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected I would, the mythology is beautifully crafted with a world that is gorgeously explored. The Otherworld is a mystical, haunting place, full of enigma and suspense for what might come next. Choski does a wonderful job of imagining a fantasy place that lonely young girls like Mayavati would give anything to escape to. The fantastical beings like Kamala (her talking horse and devourer of souls) and Airavata (an elephant that knits clouds) put Maya’s quest up there with the old mythos of Aladdin and Ali Baba, yet with an original, romantic twist. I don’t believe this book is based on any one story, but the lasting messages resonate with other Indian-based mythology reimagings like The Wrath and the Dawn and Rebel of the Sands. Check out my reviews of the previous two books if you enjoyed this one and would like to read similar stories (with lots of kisses, too!)