Book review | Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
Author: Shveta Thakrar
Genre: Young Adult fantasy, Mythological fantasy
No. of pages: 448
Published by: HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Published on: 11th August 2020
My rating: ★★★★☆
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.
Even before starting this book, I had decided to give my heart to it. I mean, a Desi Young Adult fantasy... that is also based on Hindu mythology. I would sell my soul to get a Desi YA fantasy rep, but thanks to Shveta Thakrar, here we are... with the most awesome-sauce book that is filled with Desi-ness and magic!
Sheetal is a half-star, half-mortal. Her mother, a star, had to leave Sheetal when she was a baby, and return to Swarglok in order to protect her. Raised by her father, Sheetal had to lie her whole life about her bloodline in order to save herself and her father as well. But one day, a fight with her boyfriend Dev, leads her anger to accidentally burn her father using her own starfire.
The only way she can save her father now is by giving him a star's blood. And only her mother can give it to him. Thus begins Sheetal's journey to Swarglok (heaven) with her best friend Minal. When she reaches Swarglok, she is reunited with her mother and her maternal grandparents who are the Esteemed Heads of House Pushya (one of the 27 stars in Hindu mythology). Her mother agrees to give her blood to save her husband, but Sheetal is put to test by her grandparents in order to show her worth as a half-star. So how is Sheetal going to save her father?
The book is so magical, I kid you not. From the descriptions of the night market to the celestial court, the imagery is too good. Even though the entire plot is based on Hindu mythology, it does not seem overdone at all. In a very subtle way, the mythology aspect is present throughout the entire story without making it seem like the book is more mythological fiction than fantasy fiction.
The Hindu/Indian representation in the book is perfect. A lot of things mentioned in the book were so relatable. I'm going to discuss about those in my ownvoices reflection blog post. I loved the family dynamics, especially Sheetal's relationship with her aunt. The addition of Dev (Sheetal's boyfriend) is another masterstroke in the book. Dev is one of the major characters in the book and he has a major role to play in Sheetal's life. But instead of making Sheetal's character arc revolve around her relationship with Dev, the author gave Sheetal her chance to shine as an individual. And this was honestly one of the best thing about the book.
I loved how the story takes place within a span of just 4 or 5 days. It does not feel rushed, but each day is thoroughly described. This thing kind of slowed down the pace for me, but overall it was actually a great addition to the book! The only thing missing according to me was that the author delves into the main plot from the first page itself. I wouldn't have minded if there was a bit dilly-dallying with Sheetal's character, showing her likes and dislikes, and her relationship with Minal, her father and Dev without bringing the half-star thing. I wanted to see how Sheetal is as a half-mortal.
The book has a perfect flow. The book is narrated in a third person point of view and it's actually more descriptive in style. The writing style is almost lyrical, considering that the plot has a lot to do with music and instrumentals. I loved the eloquent way in which the dialogues of the celestial characters take place in the book. This is one gorgeous book and you should immediately put it in your TBR!
Shveta Thakrar is a writer of South Asian–flavored fantasy, part-time nagini, and full-time believer in magic. Her debut novel Star Daughter is coming 11 August 2020 from HarperTeen, and her short fiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. When not spinning stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames, Shveta crafts, devours books, daydreams, travels, bakes, and occasionally even plays her harp.
I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.