Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar is a heartfelt fairy tale for the modern world, in which a teenager — half mortal, half star — must travel into a world of celestial magic and music to save her father’s life. Infused with vivid imagery and Indian folklore, this is a wonderful next read for fans of mythological stories with a modern twist like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.
This debut novel was amazingly fun and imaginative. Taking an “ordinary” high school girl and her friends through a romp among creatures of folklore and a palace in the sky, it has all the charm and glamor of Sailor Moon or Spirited Away. Beyond the magical bazaars and cosmic competitions, though, there is a poignant story of connection with lost family that tugs at the heartstrings. The tragic history between humans and stars threatens to keep heroine Sheetal and her loved ones apart forever, but in the end, those bonds aren’t so easily broken.
I have seen some complaints that it was hard to understand the cultural and mythological aspects of the story, but I found them to be immersive and easy to parse if you’re willing to infer things from the text and use a little of your critical thinking skills instead of being spoon-fed information from an exposition dump. Star Daughter is set in a rich, fully realized world — not the fantastical realm of the stars, although that’s well-written, too, but our own world. Readers who aren’t afraid of the unfamiliar will have a great time with this book.
I enjoyed Star Daughter when it was first released in 2020, and it has been lovely to see it connect with readers despite the chaos of the pandemic. Shveta Thakrar recently announced that another (standalone) fantasy is on the way, The Dream Runners, so now is a great time to check out Star Daughter in all its sweet, sometimes sad, but always hopeful glory.
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