Summary: 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.
Review: STAR DAUGHTER is a wonderful mix of fantasy and mythology, and I am weak for stories where a girl goes on a quest/undergoes a challenge to save her loved one(s). I’m also a huge fan of the moment when the protagonist enters the new, magical world. Author Shveta Thakrar already had my interest at the start of the book, but the section where Sheetal plunges into the Night Market for the first time was the moment I knew that I would enjoy the rest of the book.
Everything in the celestial court is filled with magic and secrets and bursting with mythological figures. I always like a good self-discovery story, and Sheetal trying to learn how to control and use her star heritage/powers was predictable in a good way. I cheered for her while she learned to navigate the celestial court and came to terms with her heritage and her mother’s family.
However, I actually wish that the timeline for the competition had been longer; there were points where I felt the characters had to be whittled down in order to cram in the spectacle and the world-building. The other competitors particularly suffered from this, which was a shame, as I felt there was a lot potential in their backstories and motivation. I wished that Sheetal could have dived deeper into the people in the court and their motivations (and I would not have been disappointed with additional time devoted to the side f/f couple). I think the competition and the story’s resolution would have been stronger had I cared deeply about more of the characters involved.
Recommendation: Get it soon. STAR DAUGHTER is a promising debut, and Shveta Thakrar created an interesting world within it. While some elements of the novel felt out of balance, this fantasy based on Hindu mythology is worth checking out. I look forward to what Thakrar has in store for us next.