by Roshani Chokshi
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (April 26, 2016)
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Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?“I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones” (ARC).
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...
But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.
The best part of the book was all the endearing things Amar said to Maya. In fantasy books, I sort of expect the weirdly poetic phrasing (I’m not lovely? Oh, I’m like thunder and lightning and I’m a star-touched queen, and you’re going to rip the stars from the sky for me? Please, do tell me more.) and bright worlds. I loved the inter-weaving of Indian stories and religion and myths. I love the splash of culture and spices and saris and magic. I love the grotesque—it’s my favorite kind of beautiful. One thing I didn’t love? The main character. I was not a fan of the star-touched queen, Maya.
Let’s chat about the plot, first off. Maya has a dark horoscope, and even with her royal background, it has put off potential suitors. Just when she is about to sacrifice herself for her father-the Raja- Amar comes swooping in like a super hot, smooth worded Dark Knight (I love the 1001 Nights, stories, and this book definitely had the same aura) and marries her. The entire rest of the story is a journey of self-discovery in a vibrant, shadowy world.
The culture is gorgeous. As a general thing, I really enjoy reading about Persian, Indian, and Middle Eastern cultures. I wish those were in YA more. And if y’all have any suggestions, please let me know! The Indian culture in this book was my favorite part, and Amar was a close second. Maya, she fell last.
I felt like she was supposed to be strong, but I just though she was annoying. I do understand her hope and desire for freedom. And I understand that she didn’t get the answers she was searching for immediately. However, in this life and any others to follow, instant gratification isn’t really up for grabs. Waiting to see what happens is how power is gained. I thought that Maya’s character was flimsy and that there was an unrealistic change in her once she got married. Power isn’t something you are immediately given, even by a marriage such as hers. I found myself annoyed with her unwillingness to compromise. She was given a pretty good hand, and she refused to recognize it. Of course, that was a part of her journey.
Overall, this book was pretty beautiful but I just didn’t like Maya. I love the bright colors and demons, and almost everything that had to do with Amar and the night sky and edible jewels. Unfortunately, it fell a little flat of my expectations overall.