Today I’m delighted to welcome Julie Czerneda as part of the Futures Past Tour celebrating the release of her upcoming science fiction novel! The Gate to Futures Past, the second book in the Reunification trilogy after This Gulf of Time and Stars, will be released on September 6, and I have a guest post by the author and a book giveaway of both Reunification books—plus DAW Books is offering a tour-wide giveaway of all eight Clan Chronicles books!

This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda The Gate to Futures Past by Julie E. Czerneda
Cover Credit: Matt Stawicki

Move in the Midst? Oh, why not?!

Let me count the ways, shall I? First, to set the scene.

We’d lived in the same spot for a staggering (for us) 24 years. Time to go, we decided. Late spring, 2015, we put our house on the market for a month—a trial run, so to speak—then took it off again. No takers and, after all, I’d a book to finish. This Gulf of Time and Stars, as it happened. Having garnered all manner of useful information, my darling Roger applied himself to making our home more saleable, whilst I focussed on writing. That’s how we roll, you see.

Fast forward, oh, say five months. Now almost spring, 2016, with Gulf long done and released. I’m in the final, rather agonizing third of its sequel, The Gate to Futures Past.

Roger sidles into my office. He does that when I’m writing, so as not to disturb my train of thought, but this time there’s a certain “Indiana Jones dares enter scary temple” quality to that sidle. I pause.

“We were too late, last year,” he begins.

I give a cautious nod.

“We should put the house up much sooner this time.”

My fingers clench the keys. “Sooner as in—?”

“Spring’s just around the corner.” So help me, he’s grinning.

I glance hopefully at the screen, but the page number is still the same as a moment ago. As yesterday, for that matter. Tough spot, this midst of story.

Spring is the time, but… “I can’t stop to help,” I admit. There’s decluttering, cleaning, all that post-winter stuff. We’ve lists. Long ones.

“I’ll do it all,” Roger offers with truly distressing enthusiasm. “Don’t think about it. You write. We’ll be on the market by next month.” Whoosh and he’s gone, leaving me staring at the screen as I recall what being on the market means. Vacuuming daily? Only the start. Then—

His head pokes around the corner. “You’re absolutely right about painting the library walls first. I’ll bring up boxes for your books and you can pack—” an airy wave “—when you need a break! I’ll do the rest.”

And so it began.

Julie Czerneda's Books to Sort
On the advice of our son, I took all the books from their shelves and put back only those I loved to reread.

I did, in fact, keep writing. I did pack and sort books—and help paint—but Roger did indeed do everything else. I send the first draft to my editor-dear, Sheila E. Gilbert of DAW (Hugo winner!!!), added vacuuming to my daily routine, and we signed the paperwork to list the house slightly before the end of March, said the listing to go live in a week. Remember that.

Because before the listing went anywhere? A couple came to our house, fell in love, and bought it on the spot.

Which would have been wonderful, but their only condition? That we be out by the end of the month.

(Yes, in the previous month I’d finished a book. Not just any book, but an emotionally charged, important book! A book whose revisions were going to circle back to me as soon as Sheila had a moment to read it. Which could be at any moment.)

I’ll set the stage again. I decided to resist.

“We—” Roger starts.

“Excuse us,” I tell the agent, and virtually drag my beloved into the other room.

“We can,” Roger assures me. “You revise. I’ll pack everything. It’s a great book. Sheila will love it. There may not be a thing to fix.”

This from a man who’s lived with an author for almost 40 years.

“It’s a great offer,” he goes on, unrepentant. “No more vacuuming!”

A major enticement, to be sure, but move out in the midst of revising said important, emotionally charged story? I’m not quite hyperventilating. “I can’t help till the book’s done,” I warn him. Again.

“I’ll do it all.”

That’s what he thinks. “Not my office. It stays normal.” As normal as can be.

A look of horror fills his dear face. “But—”

I stand firm. “Not a single box. Not one thing off a wall till I send in the final book.”

Roger grins and that, as they say, is that. Resistance was always to be futile. “We’ve sold the house! We’re moving!” A period of vast joy and dancing ensues, because this is what we wanted.

Followed by a brief, weighty pause because yes, we’d forgotten something.

“Where are we moving to?” he asks, very slowly.

“You pack,” I offered. “I’ll find a place.” And did. Lest this make me seem amazing, I spent a whole 15 minutes on kijiji, located available rental properties in the area of our interest based on two key criteria—was there room for the books and did it have appliances?—and picked three to check out. Next day, we drive five hours, see the top two, pick one, and rent it. Day after that?

Drive home. Day after? Surprise! (Not really, but it adds dramatic tension, right?) Page proofs for This Gulf of Time and Stars arrive, aka the mass market.

Did those, shipped them back, and boom—into the revisions for Gate. (Which Sheila did in fact love, as Roger predicted, and which did need tweaks and fixes, as I’d expected, mostly mine because of how quickly I’d wrapped the ending because I was in the MIDST!)

From then on, I’m revising to the nurrrip! of the tape gun in the next room.

True to his word, Roger did do everything he could without touching my office. I’d finish a section and discover the dining room dismantled. Another, and our bedroom closet had emptied. The basement filled with odd-shaped bundles wrapped in cellophane, Roger having discovered packing film and gone mad. His brothers came to help at one point. At least I remembered company at meals. Understandably, there were things my beloved couldn’t pack or wrap, mostly in hopes I’d decide I no longer loved ALL the books. The rental place wasn’t that big, you see.

As those final three weeks flew by, I do believe the poor man was beginning to have nightmares about the untimely packing of books.

Me? Mine were of being mistakenly wrapped in cellophane—when I wasn’t swimming in edit notes.

Four days before the movers were to load our belongings in their truck, I ran spellcheck and hit send. Gate was done. Ish. Roger and I shared a celebratory bottle of wine, grabbed a quick supper, then?

I took tape gun in hand and headed back to my office.

Julie Czerneda's Empty Office
After doing the math, Roger suggested I no longer stack books in the middle of rooms.

Having bid a fond farewell to twenty-one boxes of books I no longer required in my life, I packed the rest—five rooms of shelves—in four days. The six boxes of my own first editions and current manuscripts I labelled “A—Most Important—Julie’s Office” for the movers.* Our fabulous friend next door packed our kitchen. Thanks, Kate! As for my office? I packed my suitcase with what clothes were left to me and everything I’d need to proofread Gate. Oh yes, that was going to happen in the midst of moving INTO the new place.

Our move couldn’t have gone better. Not surprisingly, our movers hadn’t encountered a Roger Prepped Home™ before. There were murmurs of stunned appreciation. They did their best to infuse some random elements by piling anything they weren’t sure of into the dining room.

Roger Prepped Home™
By the morning the movers arrived, Roger had sorted our stuff into different rooms and the garage based on fragility, type of material, and size.

And that was that. We’d moved in the midst.

Oh, what happened next? Another post, I think. I may title it “Life in a Faraday Cage.” Or maybe “Author, Alpacas, and Any Signal Yet?”

The main thing, however, is that we’re happy. While I write, in the midst of boxes, Roger’s searching for that new home to fit all the books.

It’s how we roll, you see. Together.

Julie Czerneda's New Office
It took a while to unpack my office, but I was hardly suffering. Nice view, isn’t it? And there are swallows.

*One of my special boxes did get to my new office. The other five? Found at last, a month later, at the bottom of three very tall stacks of boxes labelled “C-Store in Driveshed.” Only slightly crushed. We had to laugh.

Clan Chronicles Series

About the Series:
The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future where a mutual Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, himself a talented telepath, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification will conclude the series and answer, at last, #whoaretheclan.

And what will be the fate of all.

Julie Czerneda
Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

About the Author:
Since 1997, Canadian author/former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her boundless curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Recently, she began her first fantasy series: Night’s Edge with A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel. A Play of Shadow followed, winning the 2015 Aurora. While there’ll be more fantasy, Julie’s back in science fiction to complete her Clan Chronicles series. Reunification #1: This Gulf of Time and Stars, came out in 2015. #2: The Gate to Futures Past will be released this September. Volume #3: To Guard Against the Dark, follows October 2017. An award-winning editor as well, Julie’s latest project is editing the 2017 Nebula Awards Showcase, a singular honour. Meet Julie at Acadia’s Dark Sky Festival, Bar Harbor, Maine this September and at Hal-Con, Halifax, this November. For more, please visit

Throughout the entire blog tour, there’s a chance to win all eight books in the Clan Chronicles (The Stratification Trilogy, The Trade Pact Trilogy, and the first two books in the Reunification trilogy). Below that giveaway is information on entering to win the two latest books!

Both giveaways are US/Canada only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Courtesy of DAW Books, I have two sets of the first two Reunification books to give away! Each set includes This Gulf of Time and Stars in mass market paperback and The Gate to Futures Past in hardcover.

Reunification Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Reunification Giveaway.” One entry per household and two winners will be randomly selected. Those from the United States or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Monday, September 5. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winners. After the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: The form has been removed now that the giveaway is over.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Three books, all of which sound quite intriguing, showed up in the mail last week, but first, here’s the latest review in case you missed it.

Last week, I reviewed N. K. Jemisin’s brilliant, complex, thoroughly engaging novel The Obelisk Gate (which was also released last week). I absolutely loved it—it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and I can’t rave about it enough! And I was thrilled that the previous book The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award last night.

Now, the latest books!

Breath of Earth by Beth Cato

Breath of Earth (The Breath of Earth #1) by Beth Cato

Breath of Earth, the first book in a new series by Clockwork Dagger author Beth Cato, will be released August 23 (trade paperback, ebook).

I’ve wanted to read this ever since I first heard about it and saw the cover so I was quite excited when it showed up!


After the Earth’s power is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magical powers to survive in in this fresh fantasy series from the author of acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.

In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer Wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.

When assassins kill the Wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . .

Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.

Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Of Sand and Malice Made (Song of Shattered Sands Prequel) by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Of Sand and Malice Made, a prequel to the Song of Shattered Sands series beginning with Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, will be released on September 6 (hardcover, ebook). has excerpts from both of these books:

The second book in the series, With Blood Upon the Sand, is scheduled for release in February 2017.

I’ve considered picking up the first book in this series in the bookstore a couple of times now so I’m really curious about this one! I also love the cover and title.


Çeda, the heroine of the novel Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this prequel, she has already made her name in the arena as the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf; none but her closest friends and allies know her true identity.

But this all changes when she crosses the path of Rümayesh, an ehrekh, a sadistic creature forged long ago by the god of chaos. The ehrekh are usually desert dwellers, but this one lurks in the dark corners of Sharakhai, toying with and preying on humans. As Rümayesh works to unmask the White Wolf and claim Çeda for her own, Çeda’s struggle becomes a battle for her very soul.

The Weaver by Emmi Itäranta

The Weaver by Emmi Itäranta

The Weaver will be released on November 1 (paperback, ebook, audiobook). This is Emmi Itäranta’s second novel; her first novel Memory of Water was nominated for several awards, including the Philip K. Dick Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Tiptree Award.


The author of the critically acclaimed Memory of Water returns with this literary ecological tale in the vein of Ursula K. Le Guin and Sheri S. Tepper, in which an innocent young woman becomes entangled in a web of ancient secrets and deadly lies that lie at the dark center of her prosperous island world.

Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret—she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island’s elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society.

But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver—and how can she hold Eliana’s fate in her hand?

As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn’t understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption. Joining a band of brave rebels determined to expose the island’s dark secrets, Eliana becomes a target of ruthless forces determined to destroy her. To save herself and those she loves, she must call on the power within her she thought was her greatest weakness: her dreams.


It’s astonishing to recall that N. K. Jemisin’s impressive debut novel The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was released a mere six years ago since it’s difficult to imagine a time when she wasn’t one of my favorite authors. In the last few years, she’s published six more novels—the rest of the Inheritance trilogy, the Dreamblood duology, and now, the first two books in The Broken Earth trilogy—and has proven to be one of the more consistently excellent writers I’ve read. Three of her novels (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, and The Killing Moon) were among my favorites, and now, I’m adding a fourth book by her to that list: her latest release, The Obelisk Gate, which even surpasses these other beloved novels as her best yet.

The Fifth Season, the first book in The Broken Earth trilogy, is a brilliant book and a strong start to the series, but I didn’t find it as thoroughly engaging as other books by N. K. Jemisin that I’ve read. Though the writing, worldbuilding, and characterization were all fantastic, there were some parts that didn’t quite hold my attention even though I figured their importance would be revealed later in the trilogy. When the book ended, it seemed as though it was just starting to get to the heart of the story so I expected that the next may be more captivating—and was it ever! The Obelisk Gate expands on the first, tying everything together masterfully, and is a rare book that kept me glued to the pages from start to finish and reflecting on it even after I’d put it down.

I’m not going to discuss the plot since I don’t want to give away anything too earth-shattering; suffice to say it picks up where the last book left off and also provides more insight into Nassun and Schaffa. The characterization is incredible: each character is complex and crafted with care to show them at their best and their worst. In the hands of many authors, a character like Schaffa would be evil with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Though many of his actions are terrible, it’s also clear that he does care about some of his charges and believes he is helping them. The bad he’s done is not overshadowed or forgotten, but he’s a fully human character capable of a range of actions and complicated views and emotions—in fact, this can be said of all the characters.

The connections between characters and the examination of the way people are shaped by their experiences makes this all the more compelling. The influence of others is a particularly powerful theme in this novel, especially as shown through the exploration of the mother-daughter relationship between Essun and Nassun. In The Fifth Season, Essun’s concern for her daughter may make one imagine a caring relationship, but the reality is that Essun has made many mistakes with her daughter in the name of trying to protect her. Nassun’s relationship with both her parents is heartbreaking: she feels unloved by the mother who trains her so harshly and always felt closer to her father until the day he discovered she was an orogene. Later, Nassun begins to understand the training that molded her mother, and she herself is much like Essun though she’d prefer not to be.

In addition to being personal, The Obelisk Gate is epic and this manages to balance both quite well. More information is revealed about the stone eaters, obelisks, and the Seasons, and the way the author parcels out the details leading to revelations is logical and organized—and enticing enough to keep me wanting to know more! Every aspect of this novel is thoughtful, from how life forms would respond to Seasons to the ways people would try to survive. I also loved that it delved into how different people learn and the advantages and disadvantages of structured instruction. Essun feels that she has greater knowledge than others due to being Fulcrum trained. Though she does often know how to do tasks self-trained orogenes do not, she finds that she doesn’t understand quite as much as she thinks she does. Others sometimes discover new ways of doing orogeny that she never thought to do since she had teachers who told her how to think about orogeny and what was possible—teachers who sometimes didn’t want her to know exactly what was possible.

The writing is also phenomenal, sometimes chatty and straightforward and often perceptive. Although the prose in the first book was also lovely, I thought this one had a lot more emotional resonance since it seemed to probe more deeply into the characters’ psyches. Nassun’s perspective was especially affecting since she’s so young and feels so rejected, and some of her thoughts were especially heartbreaking, such as when she was contemplating that her father’s love came “wrapped in pain” after his discovery that she was an orogene.

The only thing that bothered me about the entire book was that I occasionally wondered how it could effectively portray some of what the characters were thinking and feeling, given who is narrating the story. Sometimes it’s reasonable to believe the narrator would have an idea of this, but there were a couple of details that I thought unlikely to even be considered by the one telling the story. However, this is a minuscule issue since I’d much rather have a view into the characters’ innermost thoughts than the alternative (and the trilogy isn’t over yet so perhaps there will be an explanation by the end!).

In short, The Obelisk Gate is an excellent book: the best book I’ve read by N. K. Jemisin, the best book I’ve read this year, and one of the best books I’ve ever read period. The writing, worldbuilding, characterization, and storytelling are all outstanding, blending together to create a fascinating story simultaneously large-scale and intimate. It’s a truly unforgettable novel, one I’m still turning over in my mind a month after reading it, and I cannot wait to read the conclusion.

My Rating: 10/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher.

Read an Excerpt from The Obelisk Gate

Reviews of Other Book(s) in This Series:

  1. The Fifth Season

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Last week brought one book that I’m very excited about, but first, here are last week’s posts in case you missed any:

I’m working on a review of the most amazing book I’ve read this year, The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin. It’s out in just a couple of days, and I thought it was better than The Fifth Season (which I didn’t love the same way as many of N. K. Jemisin’s other books, even though I really liked it and thought it was incredibly well done).

Now, for the latest book…

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City (The Invisible Library #2) by Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City will be released in the US on September 6 (paperback, ebook). It seems to already be available in audiobook, and this book has been available in the UK since last December. The Burning Page, the third book in the series, will be released in the UK in December and the US in January 2017.

Barnes and Noble has an excerpt from The Invisible Library, the first book in the series.

The Invisible Library is so much fun (my review), and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!


Librarian-spy Irene and her apprentice Kai are back in the second in this “dazzling”* book-filled fantasy series from the author of The Invisible Library.

The written word is mightier than the sword—most of the time…

Working in an alternate version of Victorian London, Librarian-spy Irene has settled into a routine, collecting important fiction for the mysterious Library and blending in nicely with the local culture. But when her apprentice, Kai—a dragon of royal descent—is kidnapped by the Fae, her carefully crafted undercover operation begins to crumble.

Kai’s abduction could incite a conflict between the forces of chaos and order that would devastate all worlds and all dimensions. To keep humanity from getting caught in the crossfire, Irene will have to team up with a local Fae leader to travel deep into a version of Venice filled with dark magic, strange coincidences, and a perpetual celebration of Carnival—and save her friend before he becomes the first casualty of a catastrophic war.

But navigating the tumultuous landscape of Fae politics will take more than Irene’s book-smarts and fast-talking—to ward off Armageddon, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear….


Since the last couple of Patreon book selections were fairly recent, the August book poll theme was science fiction and fantasy from the ’70s and ’80s. The choices were as follows:

The August book is…

Forerunner by Andre Norton

Forerunner by Andre Norton

Andre Norton was one of the best known writers of science fiction in the genre’s history, and the subject of especially fervent loyalty and enthusiasm. One of her greatest triumphs is the Forerunner series, which has earned a place of legend among fans with such books as The Time Traders, The Galactic DerelictSargasso of Space, and many more. Forerunner is the definitive novel in that series. It also holds a special place in the history of Tor, as it is the first book Tor ever published.

“Kuxortal has always been,” Forerunner begins. This ancient port was established in the time of antiquity and has built and rebuilt itself on the ruins of former civilizations. Kuxortal is inhabited by a lowly race of Burrowers, who tunnel and excavate beneath the city’s towers and sometimes discover artifacts from the past. Simsa is a Burrower who has spent her entire life in the service of an older, crippled mentor, Ferwar, who had reputedly rescued Simsa from a trash heap when she was an infant. Simsa, with her blue-black skin and platinum hair, clearly comes from different stock than the other Burrowers, but Ferwar never revealed her origin.

When scavengers attempt to loot the treasures that Ferwar had left behind, it becomes clear that Simsa must flee. Especially when they discover that the scavengers consider Simsa one of the treasures that they have come to steal….


Book Description:

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.

The Star-Touched Queen, a young adult fantasy with inspiration from the story of Persephone and Hades and Indian mythology, is Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel. A companion novel about the main character’s younger sister Guari, A Crown of Wishes, will be released in March (side note: it has a gorgeous cover!).

Both the mythological influences and the story sounded wonderful, and I’ve wanted to read The Star-Touched Queen ever since I first heard about it. Though I did enjoy the fantasy aspects, I thought the highlight of the novel was Maya’s personal journey. When she lived in the harem, she was despised and blamed for any ill luck due to her horoscope, and shortly after she learns of the special regard her father has for her intellect, he informs her that “even a favored daughter is still just a daughter” (pp. 28). He still sees her as a political pawn, easily sacrificed for his kingdom.

Then, just as it seems that her fate is sealed and she’s ready to accept that her horoscope is coming true in an unexpected way, she’s presented with a new possibility: escape, and a life with a new husband who wishes her to rule as his equal. She goes from having very little freedom and choices to having some power over the lives of others as the queen of a mysterious realm. Soon after she’s beginning to learn the extent of her abilities, she makes a huge (but understandable) error—and without hesitation does her best to rectify it.

That strong determination makes it easy to want to see Maya succeed, especially when coupled with the weight she felt when making decisions affecting the lives of others. It’s not a responsibility she takes lightly, and I thought her wish to know the names of those concerned spoke volumes about the type of person she was:


“Wouldn’t it be easier keep [sic] your victim faceless?”

I shuddered. “Not a victim.”

“What else do you call one hemmed in by fate?”

“Human,” I said, bitterness creeping into my voice.

“What about guilt, then? Why open yourself to pain?”

“Guilt is what makes you accountable.”
-pp. 108

I also enjoyed the thread of hope that ran through Maya’s story. She feels constrained by her fate, but she loves stories and finds an uplifting message even in the darkest of them because it shows that there can be other interpretations and ways of thinking about a problem that seems impossible to solve. When faced with a large obstacle, no matter how insurmountable it may seem, she perseveres.

The writing was often beautiful and evocative, but at times, I thought it was stylistically beautiful without conveying a full picture. Nevertheless, it was rarely a distraction and I found the first two thirds of the novel quite engaging even though I never quite loved it. However, the last third of the novel was a mixed bag for me, and I now must confess an unpopular opinion about why: Kamala.

I know. A flesh-eating demon horse sounds like an amazing addition to any novel, and I seem to be very much in the minority on this one, but I found her dull, overdone, and repetitive. She kept repeating similar sentiments, and I felt that her dialogue was trying much too hard to be humorous and failing to be amusing. Despite having some good moments toward the end, the novel started to lose me after Kamala became Maya’s companion.

The Star-Touched Queen tells a lovely, mythic tale about fate and a queen whose choices have great consequences, for better or worse. Although I found later parts of the book less compelling, I enjoyed the novel overall and look forward to Roshani Chokshi’s next book.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: I purchased it.