Growing up, my main source of entertainment was books. It was books that allowed me to go on adventures with characters that I considered friends. I wanted to be a part of their world, but there was no one like me represented in the books. It was alienating to read these stories and not have anyone look like me. I looked to find someone I could see myself in with these books, but I never could. I think that is why Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel The Star-Touched Queen is important.
It focuses on Indian mythology, which I admittedly did not know too much about before reading the book. This was the first time I felt my culture represented in a positive light. Maya’s horoscope claims that she will find herself in a marriage riddled with death and destruction, which earns her the ire and fear of her father’s court. Maya is married off to Amar, the king of Akaran. In Akaran, Maya is given the adventure she has always desired. I first picked up this book because I saw the author’s name. Roshani Chokshi is an Indian name, and I had never seen an Indian author in the young adult section. While reading this book, I was impressed by her use of our shared culture. Asian culture is not seen as “marketable” by many companies, so many authors will veer away from it. Representation is important. It determines how the world will view a group, and I think Roshani Chokshi has done an excellent job creating a beautiful picture of Indian culture.
Her writing is poetic, and you will feel like you are reading poetry rather than a novel. I finished the book within the course of two days. It was enjoyable and delightfully fast paced. This writing style is not for everybody. In fact, I have found this to be the most controversial part of the book. There are some readers who are not found of the metaphoric writing in The Star-Touched Queen. I for one, do prefer this sort of writing to traditional writing. I was drawn in by the writing style, but I continued for the plot. There was a constant sense of mystery in the book, and I needed to know what happened after every page. I would recommend this to every reader because it will open up their minds to the diverse world that we live in.
After reading The Star-Touched Queen, I reached out to the author. I confessed that I wanted to be a writer, but I was afraid that I never would become one. If you are a woman of color, the publishing industry has not been kind to you. Roshani Chokshi gave me hope. For that, I am grateful. I hope to someday meet her in person, so I can thank her. It is because of my conversation with her that I began to pursue writing a serious career rather than a hobby. Whatever the outcome, I do not regret my decision.