Synopsis: This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.
The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.
Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.
Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor. (Goodreads)
Publication Date: August 11th, 2020 (Harper Teen)
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Trigger Warnings: panic attacks, parent abandonment,critically ill parent,torture, stabbing
Star Daughter was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I was so excited to read it. This world building in this book was amazing and magical but in all the other aspects I had very mixed feelings.
The story follows Sheetal who is the daughter of a star and a mortal. Her mother, who is a star, had left when Sheetal was young to go back to her home in the sky. Sheetal has powers through her mother but she has to keep it hidden. Only her father, aunt and best friend know about it. An incident occurs which gives rise to her starfire and she accidentally injures her father who is then hospitalized. The only way to save him is through the blood of a whole star for which Sheetal has to go to her mother’s home, Swarglok. In the celestial courts, she discovers her other family, secrets, politics and she has to participate in a competition which she has to win.
The story was good and promising and it started off really well but it did not capture my attention throughout. It did not particularly wow me. It got tad bit predictable at times which hampered by reading experience. It somehow felt it was lacking in some perspectives and unfortunately that did not work out well for me. It wasn’t very high stakes either.
The main character was Sheetal. Sheetal was a good character and her vulnerability, her love for her father, longing for her mother and her battle with her true identity were all great to read. I liked her but I did not particularly love her a lot. She seemed repetitive. Her relationship with her boyfriend Dev had it’s adorable moments but it was just not enough to get me to root for them. Dev was annoying at times and I couldn’t really get myself to care for him.
My favourite character in the book was Minal, Sheetal’s best friend. She was simply amazing and her bright personality came through in her scenes. She was such a sweet and supportive friend and reading her scenes always made me happy. I also adored her and Padmini together and it was so full of adorable moments and I rooted for them throughout (and much more than Dev and Sheetal). The other characters were okay and they fit well in the story but I wasn’t particularly attached to anyone.
The World Building
The world building was my favourite part of the book. It was simply amazing. The inspiration from the Hindu mythology was evident and made my heart so full reading it. Sheetal called her mother’s parents nana and nani which is also something I do so I was overjoyed reading it. It was unapologetically desi right from the clothes, the food and the Gujarati words spoken. Characters wore kurtas and ghaghra cholis and ate shiro and lots of Indian food which was so good. There was a magical Night Market and a room full of mirrors and this was described so well.
I think I’m giving this book this rating majorly because of the world building because it was stunning how the author weaved mythology elements in a contemporary fantasy and all the desi parts and names made me super happy. The story did not work well for me especially with how good this world building was.
The Writing and Pacing
The writing was good and made the story atmospheric. But again the pacing seemed off. It started okay and then it got slow in the middle and there were some scenes where there was a lot happening and then there were some scenes where nothing much happened. The ending seemed rushed to me and I felt there was some unnecessary parts in the end which would have been fine without it and might have given the climax and ending more impact.
Overall, Star Daughter is a magical book with good world building and low stakes story. If you’re a fan of low fantasy with good world building and a good audiobook, then this is the book for you! (You can avail 60 days free trial on Scribd through this link which will also get me 30 days. Click here: Scribd referral)
Thanks to the publisher and the author sending me an eARC through Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.
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