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.
Title: Star Daughter
Author: Shveta Thakrar
Rating: ⭐ 3.5/5
“The silver-tressed, brown-skinned girl before her stared back, powerful. Soft and sturdy as spider silk. Mistress of herself. A hint of starry fire smoldered in her eyes like a signal.” – Shvveta Thakrar, Star Daughter
Sheetal is always being reminded to hide her inner shine – literally. As a teenage girl living in New Jersey, she dreams of a life where she can share her music and shine in the spotlight. As a half star, however, she is constantly worrying about someone finding out her secret. But when things get out of control and her dad’s life rests on her shoulders, Sheetal must enter the celestial court, where secrets and self-serving stars are plentiful.
Shveta Thakrar beautifully illustrates magic with poetic descriptions of music, food, and fantastical places. From the Night Market to Svargalok, it felt like I was actually transported! And how could I forget the mouth watering food descriptions, many of which reminded me of my own family’s homemade meals.
Along with the dreamy magic, I found familiarity in some of Sheetal’s experiences. As an Indian-American, more specifically an American-born Gujarati, I was extremely excited about the representation in Star Daughter. From the Desi community events to food being an expression of love, I related all too well to the small details that were normal to me growing up. I think it’s important to note that everyone experiences things differently, so not everyone will find Sheetal and her family as relatable. I personally, however, felt comfort in being able to read what I considered “normal” when others always considered them “weird.” One of my favorite examples of this is Radhikafoi packing Tupperware boxes of food for Sheetal, despite the fact that Sheetal would be in a palace with chefs and plenty of food. I immediately thought of my own aunts and their insistence on sending me off with more food than I can carry.
With all the things that I loved about this book, I hate to say that there were certain aspects that felt off. Star Daughter is a YA fantasy book, but it read more like a YA contemporary. Most of the book is filled with Sheetal adjusting to court life, so there were many slower moments of just Sheetal and her thoughts. This pacing wasn’t entirely unenjoyable, but it was an adjustment for me as I was expecting a faster pace. I was also slightly disappointed at the lack of presence from other characters, like Sheetal’s best friend and travel companion Minal. Since the story focuses on Sheetal, I relied on her interactions with others in order to see their character development. However, I felt that this was difficult as Minal, along with other characters, was not involved much of the time.
Overall, Star Daughter is the imaginative YA fantasy book I needed growing up. From the beautiful writing to the Indian-American representation, it’s an underrated gem that is guaranteed to transport you.
Until next time, happy reading! ♡