review: the star-touched queen

Friday, January 27, 2017

Date started: January 21
Date finished: January 21
Book 5/52 in 2017.
My rating: ★★★

This book was at the top of my must-read list last year, and it's recommended to anyone who loved The Wrath & The Dawn and The Rose & The Dagger, not to mention Cruel Beauty, which is me, me, me, ME. I love retellings and I love young adult fantasy and I love beautiful covers and I love beautiful storytelling, so what could possibly go wrong with The Star-Touched Queen, right? 

Here's the summary from Goodreads – 

"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…"


The Star-Touched Queen was a beautifully told story, but I needed more than that. The author expected me to trust them fully and go along with everything without really knowing what any of it meant. 

1. The actual story was fascinating, and I would've loved more of it.

This one was far too quick for me. One moment, Maya is standing before her father as she prepares to choose her husband – knowing there is no choice in the matter – and within a page, she's married Amar and is climbing onto his water buffalo to ride off into the wherever. 

But the entire story, despite its flaws, was beautifully told and enticing, which is what kept me going and what made it a 3-star read instead of much, much lower. It's hypnotic and a little intoxicating, but unfortunately abrupt at the same time. 

2. I was so invested in the world building, both in Akaran and in the real world. 

The author built a really beautiful stage for her story to perform on. From the fighting and the war in Maya's human home and the creatures in her less-than-human home – I loved it all. Everything moved far too fast, though – I wanted to savor the world that Chokshi built for Maya and Amar, but I didn't have enough time.

3. Maya was a wonderful character to lead me through the mess.

I loved Maya, even though she had to be stupid and screw everything up – but if our characters were never stupid, we'd never really get anywhere, would we? She is curious, clever and very real, and it's not hard to see why Amar would fall in love with her. Though her emotions develop and change quickly, everything she thinks and feels feels very real

1. The beginning, plot-wise, felt a lot of promise, but it dropped off quickly from there.

After Amar scooped Maya up and brought her back to Akaran, the prose stays beautiful but the plot gets ... wonky. And confusing. And ??? I couldn't tell you the name of the villain or Amar's sidekick, because they weren't memorable despite their important impact on the plot. I couldn't tell you how Maya got to where she was in the second half of the book. I essentially forgot it all after it happened because it wasn't interesting, it was just quickly moving me along to get to the end.

2. The freaking horse. What the heck?

I mean, sure, the horse was a funny character, but does Maya have no better options for a sidekick in the world than a demon horse? And not even a good demon horse, because I don't believe this horse has any interest in taking a bite out of Maya's arm, no matter how many times she requests it. The horse was a means to an end, a necessary device to move Maya from where she ended up to where she needed to be, but it could've been a person, a parrot, an elephant – there was absolutely no significance in it being a horse, and she was annoying.

3. The instalove. Come. On.

While the instalove makes sense once you realize what is happening under the surface, you DON'T realize it while just reading along – and that makes it terribly annoying. Sure, we realize long, long, long after they're married while Maya is feeling so many things for Amar so quickly, but while it's happening... it just feels like instalove, in its worst form.
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