The Star-Touched Queen
The Star-Touched Queen (#1)
A Crown of Wishes (#2)
By Roshani Chokshi.
Book 1 follows the story of Maya, who has been cursed since birth with a horoscope that predicts a marriage of death and destruction. Shunned by the entire kingdom, she lives only for her books and her little sister Gauri. Then, against all expectations, her father announces she will be wed- a political arrangement to quell unrest. One particular suitor catches her eye, and she finds herself queen of a land called Akaran, and wed to a man who gives her respect, power and passion. But he also has secrets. As Maya learns more about her new kingdom (a place filled with locked doors and impossibilities), doubt and suspicion creep in. As she slowly pieces together the truth about her husband, her new kingdom, her horoscope, and her own soul, Maya must make a choice of who to trust. The consequences of her choice will shake worlds.
Book 2 tells the story of Gauri (Maya’s sister) and Vikram (who was also a minor character in book 1). They are princess and prince of neighboring, feuding kingdoms. Both, for different reasons, have been denied their voice and full birthright- trapped by circumstances. When Vikram receives an invitation to the mythical Tournament of Wishes, they find themselves bound together for the purpose of the competition. If they win, they each get a wish of their heart’s desire. But winning is not easy. First they have to actually find the city of legend where the competition takes place; then they have to stay alive long enough to win it. In a competition full of danger, illusion, and no clear rules, the two enemies must learn to trust each other if they hope to survive.
Both of these books are beautifully written as far as the language and descriptions. There’s a lyrical quality to the prose that is just wonderful. The stories are a blend of Indian mythology, with shades of Greek mythology and fairytales, full of color and magic and mystery. They are both love stories in their own way, with adventure and intrigue. They are not your clean ‘Disney-fied’ stories, either- there are betrayals, demons, gore and violence.
Book 1, though it had lovely prose, was too formless and shifting for me. I read a lot of fantasy and am used to worlds where magic is the driving force and not always understandable, but this was just all over the place. I also felt like an important reveal came too late in the book- I didn’t have a reason to really care about the characters before then, and halfway through is too long into a book for that. Maybe this would have been alleviated if I had more familiarity with Indian mythology, but as it was I mostly just had no idea what was going on. The second half of the book did flow much better for me, because at that point there’s a clear purpose and the stakes are known.
Book 2, I actually liked much better than book 1. It had more of a coherent storyline and direction, and caught me up in events more fully. On the surface it’s a standard setup: a quest pits two enemies together against the world, and oh my they start to like each other. But there’s a reason why that’s a standard- it works. And the depth the author lends to Gauri and Vikram makes you invested in the story and the outcome. The tension between ‘how can they survive this?’ and that standard setup where you know eventually there’s a happy ending, gives a nice energy to the book. You want to know how they get there. The obstacles they must overcome for the Tournament are not the standard fare either. There’s an emotional intelligence to this book that added a level of poignancy and wisdom to events.
Overall, I did enjoy this series. Book 1 is something you’ll enjoy more in hindsight once it’s done, and Book 2 is one you’ll enjoy as you go. If you’re looking for a new fantasy-mythology series with some epic love stories and adventures (and beautiful writing) give this series a go. Book 1 is already out, and book 2 will be out next month.