“I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones. I wanted the impossible, which made it that much easier to push out of my mind.”
This book is one of the most beautifully written YA novels I have come across in all my years of reading. It’s written so beautifully that it practically sweeps you off your feet and carries you away with its lyrical prose and heartfelt narration. It’s so descriptive and wonderful that it really makes you feel like you’re right there, living every moment, feeling every emotion, and really being a part of this gorgeous world.
This book is full of emotion – from the feeling of not belonging or being wanted to the other extreme – powerful love than can withstand anything.
“’I love you,'” he murmured into my hair. “‘You are my night and stars, the fate I would fix myself to in any life.’”
Maya is born in a time when the people look to the person’s horoscope to determine their fate. Maya’s isn’t too promising – it reads that promises that she will enter into a marriage of “death and destruction,” and because of her horoscope, everyone looks down on her. Some of the wives where she lives even believe that she is the reason that her mother had died, along with several of the other wives. Because no one wants to be around her, she figures it means she is to have a life without the usual marriage and giving up everything she loved – including learning and having her own opinions on matters. However, when her father, the Raja, decides that she is to marry after all, she is less than pleased, especially when she knows her marriage is just for politics, and even though she is welcome to choose her own husband from the suitors her father provides, it won’t mean much to her.
After things go awry and Maya has to escape the palace, she chooses to marry the man who rescues her – Amar, the king of Akaran, making her the queen. Even though Maya has never heard of this kingdom, she instantly falls for Amar, the man who rescued her. When he takes her away, back to his kingdom, to escape the madness that has erupted around them, she discovers things that she has only known in stories – such as the Night Bazaar. This beautiful world soon becomes something she never expected.
Admittedly, I don’t know very much about Indian folklore, but this book was just amazing, and it has sparked a new interest in the topic that I really want to learn more about.
While the whole insta-love idea does come into play here, it’s the kind of love that reminds me of how much I loved Disney movies when I was little. It’s just the kind of thing that makes you feel all warm and happy inside.
The world building in this book is perfect – the way attention is paid to details and how beautifully everything is written really tells you that the author took her time and really poured her heart into this book.
I did get a little confused because it does tend to jump around a little toward the end, but I just re-read those parts and I was good to go. This was full of unexpected wonders and hours of being breathless because of how amazing the writing was.
The Star-Touched Queen is a beautiful fairy-tale full of love and hope. It is the kind of book that you will fall in love with over and over again – even more the more you read. Don’t miss this one!
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.
Q & A with Roshani Chokshi
What/Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in The Star-Touched Queen? Which character in The Star-Touched Queen did you personally relate to the most and why?
For Maya and Amar, they were inspired by the Hades/Persephone. But I imagined those two mythological characters a little more differently. In Maya’s case, I knew that ambition was her defining trait, but I wasn’t sure whether that would manifest as seeking emotional or material fulfillment. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Kamala was inspired by my love of fiendish side characters like Mogget from Garth Nix’s SABRIEL and is probably the character I relate to the most. Her sense of humor can be a little abrasive. But she’s fiercely loyal to her friends. Other people in TSTQ were inspired by a collection of people whom I met/knew/heard of growing up.
Have you always been drawn to Mythology and what are some of your favorite mythological tales? What myth specifically inspired Star-Touched? Always! I was raised on mythology. It was one of the most important outlets for me to connect to my Filipino/Indian heritage. My favorite Indian myths are Shakuntula, Nala and Damayanti, and Savitri. My favorite Filipino story is the Igorot tale of the Sky Maiden. My favorite Western myth is Hades and Persephone. TSTQ was specifically inspired by Hades & Persephone.
Let’s talk inspiration. What Indian folklore inspired The Star-Touched Queen and where could someone who might be interested in reading and learning more about it and other Indian stories (cough, me, cough) learn more?
The main Indian folktales/myths that inspired TSTQ or particular scenes were: Shakuntula (plays on the idea of memory and forgotten loves), Savitri & Satyavan (bargaining with Lord of Death, wily females!) and Narasimha (the fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu who defeated the demon king Hirayankashipu). Honestly, most of these were stories I heard growing up with my family. But my favorite thing to read when I was younger were the Amar Chitra Katha comics! They’re these illustrated tales from Indian mythology and I love them so so so much.
What scene in THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was your favorite to write? Definitely the scene where Amar and Maya are working together in the constellation room. I think it’s an important scene about interpretation, which, to me, is a major theme in TSTQ.
Did you listen to any music while writing this book? If yes, what would you say was your MOST played artist or song?
Sometimes I listen to music when I write. It just depends on whether the song is distracting me or fueling some weird atmospheric part of the scene. Sometimes it’s just one song on repeat. I listen to a lot of hip hop. And when I pretty much rewrote TSTQ in February 2015, I felt furious. Not with anyone. But just with the story. Like it was itching to be told right and I was failing it. I think the songs I listened to the most with TSTQ was either Kid Ink’s “Show Me” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice.”
What is your dream movie cast for STAR-TOUCHED?
LOVE this question. I’ve always envisioned Lakshmi Menon (the Sri Lankan model) as Maya-esque. Amar has some definite Arjun Rampal undertones (swoons forever). Gupta is kinda cheeky and nerdy, and reminds me of Imran Khan (actor not Pakistani cricket player). Gauri is cheeky, but fierce, so definitely Preity Zinta or Deepika Padukone. Nritti: Aishwarya Rai. And Mother Dhina: Rekha.
What is the most exciting part about publishing your first novel?
Interacting with readers. Talking to the YA community gives me so much life.
How did you build your world and keep everything straight for STAR-TOUCHED? Flashcards, charts, webs, etc. I know everyone has their own tricks!
Flashcards, backs of receipts, corners of napkins. Which is to say, I did not keep things straight at all. This is why you have beta readers. To throw virtual tomatoes at you and point out that given the rules of your world, you cannot do the thing you just did.
What is your next project? Is it in the same world as STAR-TOUCHED?
I just finished the companion novel to TSTQ! So, I’m hoping to get started on edits soon. I can’t wait for y’all to read it. I love it so much.
What is the one thing you want readers to walk away from STAR-TOUCHED with?
I hope readers see a little of how fairytales and folklore celebrate our shared experiences across cultural spectrums. And I hope their dreams are a little star-touched and that they close the book thinking they’ve tasted fairy fruit and walked through more than one life.