Yesterday, one of the debut novels I loved most this year hits shelves: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. Perfect for fans of Rosamund Hodge and inspired by Indian mythology, The Star-Touched Queen takes place in a world where the stars foretold Maya’s future: death and destruction. When she marries Amar and becomes queen of Akaran, she thinks destiny could change. But Amar is hiding secrets, and as Maya’s distrust grows stronger, her actions could tear apart the worlds as they know them.
As chaos unfolds around Maya in the beginning of The Star-Touched Queen, a mysterious man appears and offers her his hand in marriage. He doesn’t think her a pretty trinket to be passed between the kingdoms like a horse, but somebody worthy of ruling in their own right.
“My kingdom needs a queen,” he said. “It needs someone with fury in her heart and shadows in her smile. It needs someone ruthless and clever. It needs you.”
He woos her not with pretty words, but with promises of power and prosperity. And aren’t his promises gorgeous?
“I make this bond to you in blood, not flowers,” he said. “Come with me and you shall be an empress with the moon for your throne and constellations to wear in your hair. Come with me and I promise you that we will always be equals.”
Together, they journey off to his kingdom – their kingdom – and Maya observes the world changing around them.
Trees like cursive script stretched above dark plots of earth, entwining against pale beams of ivy and sprouting flowers that turned their heads to watch us pass.
In arguably my favorite moment of the story, they arrive at the Night Bazaar, a place where all sorts of creatures come together to gossip and shop and thrive. Add this place to one of my dream fictional vacation spots.
The Night Bazaar unfurled before us in a spectrum of color and life. Carts bearing persimmons and custard apples weaved between the crowds. Stores hopped across streets to greet likely customers. Other shops shrank to the size of thimbles, fit only for the clientele no wider than a mouse. The Night Bazaar was filled with the sound of reedy flutes and the rill of haggling tongues.
Once they arrive at the kingdom, Maya begins to unravel truths about her mysterious new husband, and truths about the kingdom she’s been sucked into. Whether she will live up to the queen she envisioned for herself – and that her husband saw in her – well, you’ll just have to read to find out.
“The truth,” said Amar, taking a step closer to me, “is that you look neither lovely nor demure. You look like edges and thunderstorms. And I would not have you any other way.”
All quotes above are pulled from the advance reader’s copy and may be tweaked in the hardcover edition.