When I saw the cover for this book and I read the synopsis, I thought this would be the one for me. However, it failed to please.
This story takes place in Shalingar, a kingdom ruled by Princess Amrita’s father. It is an idyllic kingdom, with plenty of resources and a fair and just ruler on the throne. However, when Emperor Sikander arrives, everyone is worried. Sikander is known for his violent conquests, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that his eye is set on Shalingar. To keep the peace, Amrita has offered herself as Sikander’s bride – but her offer isn’t enough.
When Sikander unleashes his evil plan, Amrita finds herself running for her life, alone except for an oracle named Thala, who was kept as Sikander’s slave. With no one else to rely on, Thala and Amrita must work together to stay safe. Amrita knows she has a duty to protect her people from Sikander’s wrath. However, Thala has a different idea. She urges Amrita to go with her to the fabled Library of Fates in order to change their fates – and stop Sikander. Will Amrita be able to save her people and restore what was lost?
I always love finding and reading books that are based on Indian mythology. Books like The Star-Touched Queen allow readers from around the world to get a glimpse of the beautiful stories and traditions that are part of the Indian culture. When I started to read the book, I thought this novel would do the same.
And in terms of representing Indian mythology and culture, it does a fantastic job! The author explains the meanings of various terms and creates beautiful descriptions of the mythical Shalingar. The amount of detail that went into this novel cannot be dismissed because it really made the world in this story come alive.
But the actual story failed for me.
The beginning of the novel was great. The author established key relationships between Amrita and her family/friends, and did a great job of showing Emperor Sikander as a threat. The first scene in the novel does a great job of highlighting the anxiety everyone is feeling about Sikander’s arrival – and it soon becomes clear that they had every right to be worried. When Sikander launches his attack, I got caught up in the action and the violence and the need for Amrita to be safe. It was definitely my favourite part of the story. It’s also the part when Thala, the oracle, is properly introduced. She was probably my favourite character in the book. But that’s not saying much.
I found all of the characters to be quite bland. There wasn’t enough time for me get a good feel for all of the characters that are connected to Amrita’s life in Shalingar. But Amrita herself was not as interesting as I hoped. Everyone is in awe of her but I really couldn’t get why. She doesn’t come up with anything. She doesn’t fight for anything. She just goes around feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders…. and that’s about it. Even Thala, the oracle, was not as fierce or as fiesty as I would have liked.
I was also displeased by the romance aspect of this story. Everything was just too abrupt. In the first part of the story, Amrita was with Arjun, a childhood friend. I thought that their romance was quite sweet. But the way in which the author decided to deal with it in the middle part of the story was not good at all. I won’t say more because I want this to be a spoiler-free review, but I was definitely disappointed. And Varun? Well, I thought the blossoming of the love story there was also awkwardly done. For a novel that is supposed to be a romance, I was expecting a lot more finesse.
The plot was another source of disappointment. There were so many different story lines that this novel could have pursued. Instead, it was underwhelming and aimless. I thought that once Amrita had escaped from Sikander, the story would have more action. Instead, there’s this aimless chase that really has no logic and somehow everything just lands in Amrita’s lap without her ever really needing to try. Oh, and there’s some time travel thrown. And then there’s a rushed climax and ending that made an effort to show Amrita as a selfless person but ended up just making me feel more disappointed about the entire book.
One of my biggest problems was this: for all the mention of the Library of Fates, it played an insignificant role. It’s not important to the story. There’s no buildup about it other than the references made in the book, and it ended up not even playing a part in the actual story. It would have been better to not even have included, really.
My overall feelings for this novel? It had beautiful descriptions and I loved the influence that Indian mythology and culture had on this world. But the bland characters, lack of a story line, and inexpertly-executed romance left me disappointed. I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars.