Review | Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

If the night sky holds many secrets, it holds Sheetal Mistry’s secret the closest. A secret that explains why her hair is the silver of starlight, or why some nights the stars call Sheetal by name.

Stars like her mother, who returned to her place in the constellation Pushya years ago. Since that day, Sheetal has been forced to hide.

But as her seventeenth birthday draws near, the pull from the sky is growing stronger. So strong that Sheetal loses control, and a flare of starfire burns her human father—an injury only a full star’s blood can heal.

Sheetal has no choice but to answer the starsong and ascend to the sky. But her celestial family has summoned her for a reason: to act as their human champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of heavens.

Desperate to save her father, Sheetal agrees. But nothing could have prepared Sheetal to face the stars’ dark history—or the forces that are working to shut the gate between the realms for good.

Star Daughter has one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen, and once I saw the comparison to Neil Gaiman’s Stardust , I knew I had to give it a read. Unfortunately, the cover was one of the few things I loved about this book.

I’m not very familiar with Hindu mythology, but I was quickly fascinated by the concept of stars serving as muses. Thakrar seemed to expect readers to be familiar with both the culture and the mythology, so some of the references that were integral to the world-building were lost on me – something that detracted a lot from the truly gorgeous world that Star Daughter held.

From the outset, I found it really difficult to connect with Sheetal. She acted much younger than I would have expected for an almost-17 year old, to the point where I found myself wondering if I had picked up a middle grade novel by mistake. Her interest in Dev seemed to boil down to “omg he’s so hot” which would be fine, except there was no chemistry between them. Dev ultimately was more of a plot device than a fully fleshed-out character; he easily could have been removed from the story with little consequence.

The pacing did also not do Star Daughter any favours. It takes ~2/3 of the book to lead up to the competition that decides the next ruling class of the heavens, a glorified talent show that is overshadowed by family drama. Sheetal’s father’s life is dependent on the outcome of the competition, but the leisurely way in which the story progressed made the stakes seem very low. The competition also only lasted a handful of pages, wrapping up in a way that was both predictable and underwhelming.

Overall, Star Daughter unfortunately did not live up to the high expectations that the gorgeous cover and Stardust comparison set. That said, Shveta Tharar’s writing was lovely, so I will definitely give her future works a chance.

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