Friday 27 January 2017

The Star-Touched Queen - Book Review

The Star-Touched Queen
Roshani Chokshi
YA Fantasy
UK PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Griffin


Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

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. 


I’m in two minds about this book. There was a lot I liked about the story: the writing and sheer imagination of it are particularly spellbinding. However there was so much I found confusing. I couldn't connect all the dots between the story arcs, and I didn't understand the main characters choices at all. 

Maya was born with a terrible horoscope, one that binds her to a future of death and destruction. Safe in the freedom she will never marry, her life is turned upside down when her father suddenly announces she must choose a husband. But when the man Maya picks makes her queen to a world of myth and legend, she finds herself caught in a maze of secrets, stars, and a deadly plot that will cost her every person she loves….

My first impression of this story was that the prose is stunning. The descriptions are beautiful and Roshani Chokshi paints a world of vibrant colours, magical creatures and vivid scenery. The world building is truly astounding. I also love that it's all based around a fantasy version of old India, featuring its foods, scents and culture, as well as some delicious myths and legends. 

The characters however, I did not relate to so well. This was mostly because I didn't understand why they made such bad choices - and although I liked Maya’s personality and way of thinking, I didn't like how she could be so trusting and naive. The scenes between Maya and Nritti I found unrealistic and just plain confusing!

Then there was the romance between Maya and Amar. I felt it lacked connection because the sparks and passion, the butterflies and witty banter that makes a romance real… it just wasn't there. Despite many declarations of love from them both, I never experienced that rush (or any of the squee moments readers are prone too - you guys know the ones I mean!) when a couple finally gets together. 

However I adored the demonic talking horse, Kamala. She had some of the best lines and made me laugh out loud on many occasions. I’m just sad she didn't appear until near the end of the book.

All in all though, there was much to like about this book. The prose, the world building and magical creatures - those alone are reasons enough to give this book a try. It also means I will definitely be checking out other books by this author. Unfortunately though I wasn't sold on the characters, and the storyline unravelled in an almost dreamlike, yet non-sensical way. 

For those reasons, I give this book 3 stars!

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Lorali - Book Review

Lorali - Book Review
Laura Dockrill
YA Fantasy

Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn't exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place, is discovering where she came from.

Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and has become human.

But along with Lorali’s arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the sea coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory’s bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collard shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?


The first time I picked up this book, I gave up after fifty pages. I recently tried again, and this time I persevered through the beginning - with its heavy accents, unique view points and unusual prose - and I eventually fell into the books rhythm. My confusion cleared and at last I became engrossed in the story — which turned out to be extremely unpredictable and entertaining.

During a freak rain storm, Rory finds a naked girl hiding under the pier near his house. Taking her home, Rory discovers Lorali is no ordinary girl, but a mermaid princess on the run -- and a group of blood-thirsty pirates are hunting her. 

Vowing to protect Lorali, Rory is swept into world he never imagined existed. A world where legends are real and deadly. But can he protect Lorali from the dangers ahead? Or will love drown him as bit by bit, he loses his heart to the girl from the sea?

I ended up really liking this book. It’s author, Laura Dockrill, really has a flare for details and the story was brought to life in a really plausible way. Threaded between the chapters were news reports, forum discussions and messages - all gushing about the mermaid craze rocking the UK - and if a mermaid really did float herself down the River Thames, I could totally picture this big media-craze happening.

However for a fantasy, this book was surprisingly reality based which helped keep the plot grounded and relatable. It was also a story that teased the senses. With bold words and descriptions, I could practically smell the salt and feel the grime coating the pirates. I thought how the Harpies were depicted was particularly well done, and I loved the tragic backstories woven around each mermaid.

This book is also told from multiple points of view - one of which is the Sea! I particularly enjoyed the Seas perspective since through it, we got a lot of delicious insight into each character, as well as the backstory of how the Mermaids came to be.

The idea of mermaids being “salvaged” humans really appealed to me, and I thought their tails changing colour, creating a tapestry of the their personal stories was particularly invent full.  

Otherwise in terms of characters - they were all interesting but I didn’t really connect with any of them in particular. Instead it was the ideas presented in this book that I enjoyed. The imagination, world building and backstory — these were things that kept me reading. 

In terms of style, this book reminded me a lot of Sally Green’s Half Bad trilogy, something unique with prose that people will either love or hate. For me, I definitely fall into the first category, and despite my issues with the beginning, I’m really glad I gave this book a second chance. 

3 stars!