Welcome to my stop on The Star-Touched Queen Blog Tour! The Star-Touched Queen is Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel, and it’s a fantasy story inspired by Indian folklore, and Hades and Persephone from Greek mythology. Sounds so awesome, doesn’t it?! Today I have an excerpt from The Star-Touched Queen, and I’ll also chat about the book and share my thoughts on it. Hope you enjoy!
Thinking of Gauri always made me smile. But as soon as I caught sight of my tutor of the week, the smile disappeared. He stood between two pillars of the archive section marking the kingdom’s history. Beyond the sheer number of things to read in the archive room, what I loved most was its ceiling. It was empty, wide enough to crawl through and conveniently linked to my father’s inner sanctum.
The tutor, as luck would have it, stood directly below my hiding spot.
At least Father’s announcement hadn’t started. The courtiers still murmured and the footfall of tardiness fell on my ears like music. But if I was ever going to get to hear that meeting, I had to get rid of the tutor first.
“Punctuality is a prize among women,” said the tutor.
I bit back a cringe. His voice was sticky. The words drawn out like they would morph into a noose and slip around you in the dark. I stepped back, only to see his eyes sharpen into a glare.
He was heavyset and tall. Soft- rounded jowls faded into a nonchin and thick neck. Greasy black eyes dragged across my body. In the past, my tutors had all been the same— a little doughy, a little nervous. Always superstitious. This new tutor held my gaze evenly. That was unexpected. None of my other tutors had ever met my eye. Sometimes the tutors sidled against the dark of the archival chambers, hands trembling as they pushed a set of notes toward me. History lessons, they said. Why did they always start with history? Show me a dream unrealized. Don’t show me unchangeable paths.
The tutor cleared his throat. “I have no intention to teach you history or letters or speech. I intend to teach you silence. Stillness.”
This time I didn’t even try to hide my scowl. I did not like this replacement. Tutors generally left me alone. I never had to raise my voice. I never had to scowl. I didn’t even need words. What scared them most was much simpler and sweeter than that— a smile. The moment I smiled— not a real one, of course, but a slow, crocodile reveal of teeth and a practiced manic gleam— the tutor would make an excuse, edge along the wall and flee out of the archive rooms.
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? Never mind that none of it was true. Never mind that the closest I had come to real magic was making off with an entire tray of desserts without anyone noticing. The shadow of me always loomed larger than the person who cast it. And sometimes that had its benefits.
This tutor, however, was not as easily cowed. I strained my ears, listening for the footfall of more courtiers, but it was silent. The meeting would start any minute now and here I was, stuck with some fool who wanted to teach me the virtue of silence.
I grinned at him . . .
. . . and he grinned back.
About the Author
ROSHANI CHOKSHI comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she's learning a new kind of storytelling. More information on the author can be found at www.roshanichokshi.com.
Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
(but a companion novel is on the way!)
Format: eARC, kindly provided
by the publishers for review.
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
My rating: 4 / 5
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.
A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.
-- As seen on Goodreads
*I received an eARC from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This didn't influence my opinion in any way.*
The Star-Touched Queen was one of my most anticipated releases of spring 2016, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Retellings are an addiction of mine, and once I heard that this one was inspired by Hades and Persephone, I knew I had to read it as soon as I could get my paws on it. Add in Indian folklore, and my expectations went through the roof!
As you may know, The Star-Touched Queen is a fantasy story with the world being based on Indian folklore (and Hinduism), with a sprinkling of Hades and Persephone from Greek mythology. I really loved the combination, but I will say that I didn’t get as strong Hades and Persephone vibes as I has initially expected. Reincarnation takes centre stage throughout the story, and I LOVED this! I’ve always been fascinated by the entire concept and how the soul is eternal and can’t be destroyed, and to see it influencing and shaping an entire book… I was soooo blissfully happy!
Something I really need to talk about is the writing style: if you like flowery prose and stunningly beautiful sentences then you should consider getting this book into your life within the next ten minutes! The narrative has a whimsical, almost ethereal quality to it, and at times it felt like I was reading poetry in novel form. With the writing style becoming so absorbing and adding that little something extra to the overall atmosphere, in a way The Star-Touched Queen reminds me of both Cruel Beauty and The Wrath and the Dawn, and if you liked either of those books, chances are you’ll adore this one.
Mayavati (nicknamed Maya) is our main character and narrator, and by the end of the book I really liked her character. She’s stubborn, head strong and impulsive, and while some of her decisions left me screeching in horror and rage, she’s an awesome character to read about. Considering this is a standalone fantasy, I really liked seeing the amount of development she went through over the course of the story. And I can’t forget Amar! The best way I can describe him, personality wise, would be a cross of Flynn Rider (from Tangled) and Morpheus (from the Splintered trilogy). He’s VERY charismatic, and he’s one of those characters you can’t help but end up liking. I do have one little gripe, though: I feel like we didn’t get to see the full range of his personality. He’s very enigmatic, and I completely understand that this is needed to keep our interest up as readers, but I can’t help feeling like too much of his personality was kept under wraps for a bit too long.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the fantasy genre. I loved that the book was set in an Indian-inspired fantasy world, and when you add in the stunningly beautiful prose, it was so easy to get completely lost in the world the author created. I know there is a companion novel in the works, and I can’t wait to read it!
And now, only one question remains: where can I get a demon horse of my own?!