Title: Star Daughter
Author: Shveta Thakrar
Publishing Date: August 11, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar is my most anticipated YA Fantasy Debut of 2020 and it did not disappoint. Sheetal is half mortal, half star and felt that she didn’t quite belong. She has always hidden that special part of her, from dying her silver starlight hair to black, suppressing her starsong from bursting from her lips, and the fire that burns within her. Until one day when everything comes crashing down on her and she cannot keep her feelings in check, and eventually ends up hurting her father unintentionally. She realizes she needs to accept that celestial part of her and venture into the clouds where her mother is to find a solution for her father’s illness.
The prose is magical, lyrical and perfect for the theme of star daughter. I constantly found myself highlighting sections of the book because of the beautiful writing style of Shveta Thakrar that captivated me. It helped evoke emotion and convey a deeper understanding of the story and characters.
Shveta Thakrar’s world building is fantastic. Point blank period. She has created such a vivid and interesting world filled with gods and immortals and a Star Court that is set in the clouds. I can imagine in my head as Sheetal goes through the motions of getting acquainted with Svarglok. From the great hall where Sheetal and Minal arrived at, to the sweeping halls of her mother’s residence, the hall of mirrors where gods can watch mortals from, the library where you have to use starsong and the book you’re looking for lights up, this celestial world in Hindu mythology is one that you would want to stay forever.
The Hindu mythology was well woven into the story through the nakashatras and culture that is being practices in Desi culture. The food references were mouth watering and my favorite depiction of culture. From gulab jamuns, samosa, aloo mattar, and more, I was holding off my hunger as I perused through Star Daughter. I also loved the incorporation of language and terms of endearment in the story without explanations. The night market is also one of the notable parts of the book that I loved, the way Shveta Thakrar wrote it is precisely how someone would feel when they enter a night market, suffocating and thrilling. The point of having too much to see, smell and feel all at once, and you don’t know where to start. Then finding bits and bobs, and trinkets as you find your rhythm and go along. It was such an experience and I can’t wait for you to feel it as well.
Each character also has purpose and was memorable. Sheetal was a great main character with many layers to her. She was conflicted about her whole identity, trying to fit herself into puzzle pieces of her humanity and being a star. She wanted to have a normal experience growing up, having a boyfriend, going to school and university, being around family and specially missing her mother. But there was also the other side of her that yearns to be up in the sky, to release that celestial part of herself. But despite being a mystical being, she approached her actions as a human being. She allows her heart to rule over her head, and filled with doubt and uncertainty. I really appreciated that about her. Her love and loyalty for her father was also touching. Her relationship with her celestial family was also well tackled. Sheetal has yearned for her mother for years and as she ventured to the skies, she was able to rekindle that relationship and gain new ones.
Additionally, the other characters were also well developed and a great addition to driving the plot of the story. Minal was so lovable and a great friend to Sheetal. She managed to put the lightness into the story with her fun and quirky jokes. She is loyal and loves Sheetal with all of her being and I loved that. Dev is also a great love interest, although I wish there were more moments to show a deeper connection, I still loved his connection with Sheetal. I loved that he was a great singer and that his feelings for Sheetal were genuine, his love for his cousin also ran deep. Dev is someone who you would want to be in your corner as well.
Although I did enjoy that the book concluded in one go, as this being a standalone novel, I must confess that I found myself craving for more. This stellar world just hypnotized me from beginning to end and I need more stardust. This book is perfect for those who wants a fresh YA story that will sweep them away and transcend them into this Hindu-inspired world.
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.