The Star-Touched Queen is the debut novel of Roshani Chokshi. It is the story of Mayavati and is a retelling of a number of Indian folktales that also contains Hades and Persephone vibes. It also dabbles in reincarnation.
Mayavati is one of many children of the Raja of Bharata. Bharata is in the midst of war, but Maya and her family live in relative comfort thanks to her father. Maya, however, lives fairly isolated from the rest of her family due to her bad horoscope. The stars have predicted a very ominous future for her, thus everyone but the Raja and Maya’s younger sister Gauri avoid her.
In an effort to stave off further destruction and save his people, the Raja has requested that Maya marry one of the rulers of the 13 nations Bharata is warring against. Maya is conflicted between saving her family and country, or saving her freedom. As she tries to make her decision, she meets Amar, the Raja of Akaran. Though Maya knows Amar is hiding something – there is no country of Akaran that she is aware of – she leaves with him as war suddenly finds its way to her home.
Amar takes Maya to the Night Bazaar and finally to Akaran. He promises her the moon and that she will be his equal. Maya slowly finds herself growing more comfortable and in love with Amar. But then suddenly she is torn from the world and man she has come to love. Now Maya must make her way back and confront a person from her past.
Roshani spins an intriguing story that contains mysticism, folk tales, magic, and romance. She also writes the most beautiful prose, which is no surprise given her studies in British literature. Her characters are beautiful and well developed. Maya begins as a girl who cannot trust anyone since she has spent most of her life shunned. She grows throughout the story as she tries to find her way back to Amar and discover who she really is.
I really enjoyed this story. I wasn’t expecting all the folk tale elements when I began the novel, but that was the part I enjoyed the most. I also really enjoyed the inclusion of of reincarnation in the story. Reincarnation is an integral part of many Eastern religions and schools of thought. It’s not used often in novels – at least not many I have read – so it was nice to see it as a major part of this story.
If this is Roshani’s debut novel, I can’t wait to see what other stories she has yet to tell.
My rating: 4/5