A debut YA fantasy novel inspired by Hindu mythology and Stardust by Neil Gaiman
I am so excited to be a part of this amazing blog tour, hosted by #HearOurVoices, where the focus is on promoting #OwnVoice authors and content creators to make diverse books more accessible to readers! Star Daughter is an amazing debut novel and I can’t wait to delve right into my thoughts!
Published July 11, 2020 by Harper Teen
Data from Goodreads
This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.
The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.
Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.
Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.
My #OwnVoice Reflection
Growing up, I never saw Indian or Desi representation in any of the books I read. Most of the popular novels then – and now – featured a white main character in a heterosexual relationship. While I enjoyed the stories I read for their plot and character development, I couldn’t help but feel alienated in the bookish world. I was already struggling to find my place as a South Asian bisexual teenager in a Western country, but it felt like someone of my background, someone of my sexual orientation didn’t even have a place in the novels I loved so much. I felt like no one understood me, that I was all alone in the world.
Reading Star Daughter made me realize how much I needed this novel growing up – and how much it means to me now, knowing that Indian authors are out there writing such amazing books that normalize my childhood experience (albeit with some fantasy elements)! From the first mention of common Indian foods I’ve grown up eating to reading about the mythology I grew up hearing from my grandparents, this story resonated with me on another level. It made me reminisce happy childhood times of going to music lessons and dance classes, but it also normalized my experiences.
And this normalization is a good thing! Why shouldn’t Indian mythology become as popularized as Greek or Roman mythology? Why should apsaras and gandharvas not become just as common as the fae? By educating people about Indian culture, we can truly celebrate its richness and its beauty. Star Daughter aims – and succeeds – in doing just that.
I may not be a teenager anymore, but I cannot express to you the happiness I felt with every mention of things familiar to me about my culture. I saw my name in a book for the first time, my star sign explained for the first time. It may seem like a small thing to some, but it means the world to me. And to have a sapphic romance? Well, that was just the cherry on the cake. This novel was made for those who have always wanted to see a character that reflected them, and I hope that more people take the opportunity to read this great debut!
My Review: A Great South-Asian Debut
The Pros: What worked for me
- The worldbuilding was UNREAL! This author might be described as a Desi version of Stardust by Neil Gaiman, but it is so much more than that! Thakrar created the most fantastical world with lush descriptions that reeled the reader in. I could imagine everything perfectly and loved the inspiration from Indian mythology! There was such a wonderfully mystical atmosphere, with the most imaginative elements thrown in that blew me away.
- The themes in this story are so important and so well-developed. The entire novel focuses on Sheetal’s desire for acceptance and her struggles with her identity. We see how every new bit of information she receives affects her perceptions of herself and the meaning of the word “family”. There are so many important questions raised through her internal struggle and it really resonated with me.
- Sheetal is such a great character – I absolutely adored her personality! She is in no way perfect, and I appreciated that Sheetal was aware of her imperfections and was always working on improving herself. She showed great growth throughout the story while still trying to remain true to herself.
- Each character in this story had their own personality traits and they were all complex. Every character had a purpose and showed another facet of what it means to be human (or a star) and I loved that!
- The romance in this novel was also quite realistic – and yet, it was not the primary focus of the story, which I was relieved to see.
The Cons: What I didn’t like
- The only thing I wish was for more detail, especially in transition scenes. Sometimes, certain conversations seemed stilted and there would be an abrupt move from one scene to the next. However, these were minor and I soon was too invested into the story to care.
If you are looking for a YA fantasy novel inspired by Hindu mythology, with great themes – please do yourself a favour and check this one out!
About the Author
Shveta Thakrar is a part-time nagini and full-time believer in magic. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies including Enchanted Living, Uncanny Magazine, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, and Toil & Trouble. Her debut young adult fantasy novel, Star Daughter, is forthcoming from HarperTeen on August 11, 2020. When not spinning stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames, Shveta crafts, devours books, daydreams, travels, bakes, and occasionally even plays her harp.