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Tea & Book Chat: Mini Reviews – Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones & The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #1)

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones captured my interest once I became aware that the story is a loosely based Labyrinth retelling (and it didn’t hurt that The Melting Library created several candles based on the story either).  When I started reading Wintersong, I was initially captivated for several reasons 1) the story takes place in Germany, 2) the main character’s name is Liesl (the same as my grandmother’s), 3) the focus of the story is rooted in music and the writing is quite lyrical, and 4) every time the elusive Goblin King was mentioned my mind immediately pictured David Bowie.  Liesl is a middle child with a strong passion for composing music, but her father only places stock in her younger brother’s abilities while she’s required to work at the family inn.  When Liesl’s sister Käthe is kidnapped by the goblins, she must rescue her from the Underground by playing a game against the Goblin King.  Once Liesl has found her sister, she is still not able to bring her to the world above without exchanging her own life for Käthe’s.  This is when the story started to lose me.  I found the game to find Liesl’s sister intriguing and I loved the sibling dynamic she has with both Käthe and Josef.  Once they were largely taken out of the equation, my interest began to waiver.  It’s as if S. Jae-Jones wrote two novels in one because the story completely changes midway through.  The latter half of the book takes place in the Underground as the Goblin King readies Liesl to be sacrificed to the land while she simultaneously falls in love with him.  While I did enjoy the world building and beautiful writing, I did not enjoy the path the story took overall.  I will be picking up the second book, Shadowsong because I am interested to see how the conclusion of the story plays out but I ultimately ended up being disappointed in the first installment.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen #1)

The Star-Touched Queen is a Hades and Persephone retelling with one of the most stunning fantasy covers I’ve ever laid eyes on.  The ethereal feel perfectly captures the magic and enchantment of Chokshi’s writing style.  The story follows Maya, a girl who’s been cursed by the stars and fated for a marriage that will lead to death and destruction.  After her father arranges her marriage, Maya gets whisked away to Akran by her new husband Amar to a strange world that is full of secrets.  I’ve since heard many complaints about Chokshi’s writing style but I’m pleased to say that her flowery prose really worked for me.  I found myself completely engaged in Maya and Amar’s tale and I was enthralled by the mystery as it began to unfold.  Then, things took a turn for me.  I couldn’t believe how I went from loving the first half of the book to feeling a bit lost and confused in the latter half.  The buildup to the story’s main conflict was much better than the execution.  Chokshi’s beautiful prose is what kept me going until the end, but I wish I had closed the book feeling as excited as I had in the beginning.  I also struggled with believing the romance between Maya and Amar.  I understand that it was fated, but I didn’t feel a strong connection between them.  Despite these complaints, I loved that the story is rooted in Indian mythology and I loved all of the lush descriptions of the world.  I will definitely be reading her next novel, The Crown’s Wish, which is a companion to The Star-Touched Queen, as well as any other novels Shokshi publishes because I’m interested in seeing how her work progresses over time.  I’m hopeful that her storytelling will improve and I know already that her I enjoy her writing style.

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