Spotlight on The Star-Touched Queen, Plus Giveaway
A Note from Roshani Chokshi
My house was — and remains — a slightly ridiculous thing in terms of decor. In one corner lies a spinning wheel poised to prick Sleeping Beauty’s finger; a katana lurks behind photo albums in a cupboard; a 14th century statue gazes peacefully from the living room mantle; and sometimes you might hear the vintage sewing machines gossiping to an antique fan. It may seem odd for so many different things to share a roof, but each object is linked by a story of wonder and curiosity. My house, and my family, is full of disparate parts linked together by shared stories.
Instead of language, my family gave us fables, folktales and myths to help us connect to our heritage. Those stories became a bridge and language of their own. I grew up reading and hearing tales of sky maidens with magical flying dresses, of maidens who sparred with riddles against Death, of beautiful monsters like the manannangal and terrifying beings like rakshasis.
What I learned from all these stories was that they were the same.
At each story’s core was a desire to explain the unexplainable, to show how to conquer the things that terrified us, and to find agency in chaos. Where the story took place and who told it didn’t change the heart of a tale.
The StarTouched Queen grew out of that idea. It is not a story that’s never been told. But it is a familiar tale that’s shifted in, I hope, a new way. It has French, Greek and Nordic bloodlines from Beauty and the Beast, Hades and Persephone, and East of the Sun and West of the Moon. But it is unfamiliar too. Its roots are Indian, tangled in ancient tales from the Mahabharata. There are shades of Gujarati folktales in its chapters. It’s a story that is like home to me because it has mixed parts, but its heart doesn’t belong to one nationality. I hope The StarTouched Queen inspires readers to seek out new cultural narratives, and discover how we all tell the same story in thousands of different ways.
Meet The Star-Touched Queen!
Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteenyearold Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds friendship and warmth.
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran's magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar's plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk—threatening the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly. Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.
Meet Roshani Chokshi!
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 beardog. 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.
THE STAR‐TOUCHED QUEEN Excerpt for YA Books Central
Staring at the sky in Bharata was like exchanging a secret. It felt private, like I had peered through the veil of a hundred worlds. When I looked up, I could imagine—for a moment—what the sky hid from everyone else. I could see where the winds yawned with silver lips and curled themselves to sleep. I could glimpse the moon folding herself into crescents and half‐smiles. When I looked up, I could imagine an existence as vast as the sky. Just as infinite. Just as unknown.
But today, there was no time to let my head wander. Duty kept my gaze fixed on the funeral pyre slowly winding its way toward the harem. I choked back a cough. Charred incense filled my lungs, thick and over‐sweet with the smell of burning marigolds. Beside the pyre, mourners screeched and wept, tearing their hair and smearing ash across their faces. It was an impressive show, but their bored eyes betrayed them. Hired help, no doubt. Real grief had no place in my father’s court.
An ivory screen separated the harem from the funerary pro‐ cession, but I caught snatches of him through the lattice. He wore a white sherwani jacket, and around his throat coiled a necklace strung together with the birthstones of his children. There, by the crook of his neck, my birthstones—a handful of muted sapphires— caught the watery morning light. My father’s head was bent to the ear of a pale‐ faced courtier, his voice low. He wasn’t talking about the dead wife on the pyre. He probably didn’t even know her name. It was Padmavathi. She had a round face and used to sing in the morning, crooning to her swelling stomach with a secret smile. I never once heard her say a cruel thing about anyone. Not even me.
No, my father was discussing war. The shadow of it looms over us constantly, sometimes hidden. Always present. I only know of the war in glimpses, but I see its pall everywhere. I see war in my father’s face, pinching his cheeks sallow. I see war in the courtier’s brows, always bent in grief. I see war in the empty coffers, in the tents where once‐spirited soldiers await the crematory grounds.
I leaned closer to catch his words, only to be yanked back.
“Get away from there,” Mother Dhina hissed. “It’s not right for you to stand at the front.” My jaw tightened, but I stepped back without a word. I couldn’t risk giving the wives more
venom. They may have covered their lips with silk, but their words were unsheathed daggers. According to the royal physician, childbirth had killed Padmavathi, but no one believed him. In the eyes of the court, there was only one killer—
The Star-Touched Queen
By: Roshani Chokski
Release Date: April 26, 2016
One winner will receive a copy of this new book (US only).
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I have been looking forward to this book's release and would love to win a copy! Thanks for the opportunity! Cheers, Kara S
This book sounds like EVERYTHING I love! Indian Folklore, horoscopes, arranged marriage, and a female protagonist finding her voice and coming into her power...I need this book & that cover! gahhh!!!!
I LOVE the sound of this book! Books of diverse cultures have been among my favorites recently, and it looks as if this book will also prove to be full of bright culture and lively storytelling. An arranged marriage?! An otherworld?! A Queen and a Raja?! So excited~