Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar // Book Review

I thought this book was such a dreamy story. It made me feel like all my magical dreams were coming true. Star people who live up in the heavens and a young girl who finds out she’s got a destiny much bigger than her dreams of college and dating. Also, it’s own voices with some great additions of Hindu mythology mixed it.

Here’s More About the Book

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.

My Thoughts

I think the biggest component I loved about this story is its writing. The writing was poetic and brilliant. I found myself highlighting a lot of sentences that were just beautifully written. I loved the incorporation of Hindu mythology and the idea that Sheetal is a star princess who goes up to the Heavenly Realm and finally sees her mother for the first time in years. I loved that level of nostalgia that Sheetal had for her mother and the happy memories between them.

I also loved exploring this world. It was vast and beautiful with tons of imagery and atmosphere. I loved the addition of little things like the food they ate and even the silver of Sheetal’s hair. My favorite part was probably the night market where you can buy enchanted items and be your true self for a little while. It always makes me happy to read fantasy that has roots in the real world because it makes me believe even more that there is magic in reality.

Sheetal was definitely a character I could relate to; if my father was sick and I heard the call of the stars in my head, then I would do exactly as she did. It’s a lot of worry and fear surrounding that, but also a lot of gumption, which I always love in a great female character. I also loved that Sheetal was a bit self-deprecating. She didn’t have it all together, but it also didn’t come off as a stereotypical twitty girl who stumbles on her own feet and apologizes for everything. She was strong, capable, and a little more grown; which was a nice touch.

I will admit that it did have its shortcomings. And I could get upset about how this book didn’t deliver to my standards, but at the same time I just loved reading this. It’s contemporary fantasy and you can get upset that Sheetal is young and acts pretty young for her age, but at the same time I felt like Shveta Thakrar really captured what it felt like to be a young person who had to take on a lot of responsibility.

But it wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t talk about them, so I’ll bring them up here. The story moved like many YA fantasy books do; slow at the beginning and then a race towards the end. I loved the depictions of this star world where the gods lived, but it felt like there was a lot of set up and not enough story. There was one major event that we were reading up to, but it was held off for the entire book. The rest of the story was Sheetal preparing for the event and the stuff that happens around it. That’s fine, but it read slow. And then the last 50 pages is where all the action takes place.

There were too many threads all spread out throughout the story and it felt like a checklist to make sure to cover them all. There was the relationship with Dev, there was the missing marionettes, there was having to learn all of the star culture before the ascension. Then there was the ascension, the performance, her father being sick and needing star blood. I felt like the beginning of the book established a pretty straightforward plot, but then it meandered all over the place to cover one theme or another.

Speaking of, there felt like a lot of different themes packed into this book. I’m a fan of themes especially ones that speak to injustice towards women and people of color, but I almost felt like there were too many. It took away from the story and put the focus on these lengthy conversations about it. I would have loved to see these truncated to a few important scopes rather than trying to accomplish everything. I wanted there to be more cohesion; one or two story ideas that are plotted throughout the book. It felt messy and unorganized, which is such a bummer because I loved the characters in the book.

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