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.
Check out my review on GoodReads over here!
While not perfect, STAR DAUGHTER was enjoyable due to the fact that it was MAGICAL and BEAUTIFUL and, in general, a GRAND ADVENTURE that warmed my heart. Don’t look too deep though, because you’ll find some logistics called into question. Instead, enjoy this book for the star-filled, enchanting fantasy that it is.
STAR DAUGHTER pays tribute to the gorgeous world of Gaiman’s STARDUST, while weaving in the author’s own twists on Hindu astrology. It features a magical Night Market, glowing star families based on the nakshatras that make up our night sky, and a girl who’s stuck between two worlds. It’s prettily written and captures Sheetal’s balance between her mortal dad’s world and her star mother’s legacy of star royalty.
We begin in the mortal world, where Sheetal is escaping her Indian family’s badgering of PSAT scores, boys, and one-upping each another. A surprise from her boyfriend of three months, Dev, exacerbates the longing she feels when hearing starsong, and triggers a cascade of actions that deliver her to the sky, on a quest to find her mother and save her father.
The similarities this book has with STARDUST is a little jarring, but not too bad if you focus on Sheetal’s characterization, which was sweet. She’s always been taught to hide herself and her silver hair, to remain ‘normal’ in the human world, but a competition for inspiration is her chance to show off her skills and perhaps the destiny of a star that she was always meant to have.
“What did she want? Adventures. Cupcakes and kulfi. To be star bright and mortal dark and make her own choices, too. To not be bound by other people’s expectations.
More than anything, to be SEEN.”
To support her on the way is her cousin Mintal, who gets into a romance with the star Padmini, and other stars who empathize with Sheetal’s situation. She gets bullied by other competitors because she’s not fully mortal, while other stars don’t trust her because she’s not fully star. It’s a precarious balance that Sheetal has to maintain, being from both worlds.
At the same time, she slowly uncovers more of her star family’s history, which may not be as glowing (ha, ha) as it seems at first. There’s a loose romance going on, as Sheetal works out relationship and trust issues with her boyfriend Dev, although with the innocence of young love. It’s not in-depth, but it’s sweet nonetheless.
“We are a constellation, a galaxy, a cosmos, all connected. As a star, you are made to illuminate the darkness, to inspire, but as a mortal, you are made to be inspired.”
At the end of the day, STAR DAUGHTER is an enchanting story of a half-star, half-human who finds her way towards belonging with the people around her. Sheetal is, yes, a bit of a Special Snowflake, but her feeling on being between worlds is still valid. My only complaint is the rushed ending that could have been executed better. There were many logic jumps created to get to that ending, that dimmed my enjoyment of the overall story. Nonetheless, lovers of the magic captured in the stars should consider picking up this contemporary fantasy of a star-touched girl and her journey of finding belonging.
panic attack, prejudice/discrimination
Thank you Harper Teen and Edelweiss for the review copy!