The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)

The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, book 1)


Hardcover, Pages: 342

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Mythology

Language: English

Reads: 868

Downloads: 38475

Rating: Rated: 21669 timesRate It

The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, book 1)
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Book Description

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.

Listening Length: 9 hours and 22 minutes

  •    Akishicage Blumrosen
    lockquote> “I want to share whole worlds with you and write your name in the stars.”
    “I want to measure eternity with your laughter.”

    I want to know what the fuck that^ means? No, seriously, can someone tell me?

    1 1/2 stars. The Star-Touched Queen is a book full of dreamy, purple prose that is at times beautiful, and at others makes absolutely no sense. But if you buy into these metaphors, put on your prose-tinted glasses and let yourself get drunk on the glittering descriptions, I suppose you might be able to ignore:

    • The slut-shaming/woman-hating
    • The instalove/obsession (complete with nauseating sweet nothings)
    • The lack of character development
    • The meandering plot
    • The blind stupidity of the heroine
    • The lack of world-building (beyond the nonsensical weirdness of the Otherworld)

    Let's start at the beginning and break this down.

    The Star-Touched Queen is not what I expected. People often like to comment on my reviews that "just because it isn't what you were expecting doesn't mean it isn't good". Very true. So I will also add that, for me, this book wasn't good, irrespective of my expectations. But I had it in my mind that this book was a high fantasy entwined with mythology, kingdoms and death. It's not.

    It's yet another fairy tale-esque retelling, based on stories like Beauty & the Beast and Hades & Persephone, and reminiscent of better books like Cruel Beauty, and not so great books like A Court of Thorns and Roses (like this one, it has lots of kissing).

    The book opens with Maya being forced into a political marriage by her father. When the groom is chosen, she must take a poison and martyr herself for the sake of her kingdom. But at the point when all seems lost, a dashing suitor whirls into the room and takes her away to the Otherworld. The love interest can be spotted immediately from the way the air changes when he enters the room.
    When I looked at him, something stirred inside me. It felt like recognition sifted through dreams; like the moment before waking - when sleep blurred the true world, when beasts with sharp teeth and beautiful, winged things flew along the edges of your mind.

    Being with him was like seeing for the first time.

    But, take a step back a minute. Maya's lack of character development will remain throughout the entire novel, but it is in the early stages of the novel where she establishes herself as someone with no female friendships, lots of female enemies, and a tendency to slut-shame:
    “I’d rather spread ideas than legs,” I hissed back. “But I doubt you would agree-"

    Suffice it to say, this book definitely does not pass the Bechdel test.

    In fact, Maya has literally ONE female friend, who is - wait for it - a horse. Which is almost hilarious.

    Not only is Maya allergic to all the other evil, slutty females in this book, but she is so freaking stupid... I can't even. I honestly cannot think of anything she does that was guided by her own decisions and brain cells (does she even have any?). The plot is propelled along by her doing what everyone else tells her to do and being tricked into acting like an idiot. The bad guys (or should I say "girls"?) are not difficult to spot in this book. The reader will spot the deceptions coming a mile away - why is Maya so dense? She has very few thoughts of her own.

    Maya: Oh my god! How could I be so stupid?
    Me: I literally DO NOT KNOW.

    The middle part of the book was the hardest for me to get through. Once Maya becomes the queen of Akaran, the plot meanders and we are taken on repetitive tours. Like Cruel Beauty, but less compelling, there are many doors, mysterious voices and mirrors. It is this wandering part of the book where I could not see what we were reading towards. What questions did we have to answer? What made us turn the pages? For me, I drew a blank.

    Fortunately for the plot, Maya acts stupid, gets bumped out of this world, and has to figure out how to get back to where she was. That's right - we basically reach the happy ending by the middle of the book, but Maya fucks it up to give us another 150 pages. And to give another example of her a) stupidity and b) lack of original thoughts, this is what happens:
    “Gupta, what door is that?”
    He frowned. “Door? What door?” He turned around and then asked sharply, “What did it look like?”
    I hesitated. Mother Dhina’s words echoed… keep some secrets for yourself.

    Yes. Maya decides to withhold information about a weird voice coming from behind a door... because of the words of an evil, conniving woman. She would rather give weight to the words of someone who hates her than think for herself.

    Who would I recommend this book for? Maybe those readers who like cursed romances, but don't care about character development, woman-hating, or actions making sense. Sorry, but it wasn't for me. Points for Kamala, though. The horse is the best thing in this book.

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  •    Yolmaran Brummley
    When my favorite character is a skinny talking horse, who also happens to be a flesh-eating demon, you know it’s a memorable book!

    Mythology retelling! Indian folklore! Harem backstabbing! Lush and colorful settings! Strange creatures and hungry demons! What’s not to love???

    The book seems to be partially based on the legends about god Yama:

    The version we see here is quite different, though we still have the water buffalo. I got to ride one too:

    Princess Mayavati’s horoscope is a disaster – she’ll be partnered with death itself. But the real disaster is people’s interpretation. Everyone blames her for everything that happens in the palace. A child gets sick? Maya’s fault! A wife dies in childbirth? Maya’s fault! A wife’s slippers disappear! Okay, that one was really Maya’s fault.

    But then she’s swept in a magical adventure, like one from the bedtime stories she tells her little sister, and she must learn that there are many ways to interpret a horoscope. In a world of reincarnations, death is not just a natural part of the circle of life – it’s also a new beginning.

    Before she find herself, Maya goes through being an ignored princess, a confused queen, and even an unwilling sadhvi (a sadhu / sadhvi is an ascetic, who is simultaneously respected as a holy person and ostracized for being an outcast and a beggar):

    Maya’s characterization shows some inconsistencies, which is why I’m deducting a star. At the very beginning, her father informs her that in order to avoid a war, he needs to wed her. Maya will have the choice among a pool of possible husbands. Instead, she decides to run away. Her choice is somewhat selfish – this could mean war and would surely bring lots of trouble to her people. But this is selfishness I can accept and understand. What has her family done for her, after all? What does she owe them? The choice is still self-centered but it would have made for an interesting, flawed character. But it was not to be...

    Once her escape fails, her father tells her his plan has been different all along. There will be war anyway, so his plan is to lure in her suitors and kill them off. However, they would be protected by guest rights, which is why Maya needs to kill herself; after her death, the foreign nobles will no longer be protected.

    And Maya’s reaction is... okay, sure. She never tried to fight her fate and obediently starts drinking the poison until a random stranger stops her. Supposedly, she does it to protect her people, in particular her half-sister, but she never spares them any thought before. So she is unwilling to marry someone of her choice to protect her people, but is fine with dying?

    From that point on, Maya shows next to none independent thoughts. She just blindly follows whatever random people tell her, without putting much thinking into it. I’ve seen many reviewers complain she makes a stupid choice, but I didn’t really have a problem with the choice itself. Honestly, she doesn’t have enough information to make the choice, and she’s right not to trust Amar at this stage. The bigger problem is, she never really thinks about her choices and seems to decide at random. And, given how insane her life becomes all of a sudden, she doesn’t ask enough questions. Why is Amar so unconditionally in love with her, without even knowing her? He is willing to forgive her anything and overlook all the messes she makes. He claims he needs her insight, but we’ve never seen this insight. The reasons are revealed later on, and they are not hard to guess even before that, but Maya never guesses what’s happening. She doesn’t even wonder about it.

    Also, it doesn’t look good when we see how in a previous life she makes EXACTLY the same mistake! Listening to Nritti now is somewhat understandable, if random, but listening to Nritti in the past??? After Maya already knows Amar and all his secrets? After she knows Nrittin has a reason to hate them? Also, I’m not a fan of the trope where friends turn against each other because of a lover .

    There are some other minor inconsistencies, e.g. in the beginning we see Maya’s mother dies when Maya is young, but later the book claims she dies in childbirth. Also, Amar waits for one specific event to happen after “sixty turns of the moon” in the mortal realm, which is roughly five years, and yet at one point we see ten years have passed and yet nothing has happened. Overall, the book would have benefited from a stronger editor.

    One small thing is bugging me – can someone with a better knowledge of Indian names help out? Isn’t Gupta a surname? I was quite surprised to see it as a first name here, so I got curious and looked it up. I work in a large multinational company, and I did a search in our internal directory to find I have 448 colleagues with the surname Gupta, but not a single one who has it as a first name. A quick Google search confirms my thoughts. Then why is it a first name here? I’ve seen some very high profile authors mess up first name / surname conventions of cultures they’re unfamiliar with, but this author seems very knowledgeable, so I’m sure that’s not the case here.

    Please don’t let my complains discourage you, this book is epic and beautiful! If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ve probably noticed I tend to nitpick the most about books I love the most. Also, guys, there’s a talking horse! And it’s not really a horse, but a pishacha: a demon that haunts cremation grounds and eats flesh. It’s absolutely ugly and terrifying, but so, so cool!

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