Review: The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi

Shimmer #26 Cover / source

This post originally appeared in Coffee-Stained Dreams.

I am a Filipina and reading this story felt like being slapped by the wind whispering “it’s yours, it’s yours.” The first mention of the word “Lola” sent me reeling. And then there’s the “anak“, “salbahe“, mention of the Santos I grew up with, the monster in the stories they told us when we were young, even the puto and others – delicacies only a true born-and-bred Filipino will understand. It was a different experience, that I immediately scoured the internet for Roshani’s background because I wasn’t sure she’s Filipina – well, judging by her name alone. Turns out, her mother is – she’s mixed.

The use of Tagalog unnerved me because it’s been too long now since I read a story set in the Philippines, much less without a shortage of sprinkled tagalog words here and there. It was the familiarity I guess, the ease to which I imagined the scenes: typical provincial life, with the nice little bungalow, the festivities, the family. First few sentences and I can almost see my life reflected back at me. I won’t be surprised if this post would mostly be about me talking how relateable this story has been.

The story was bittersweet – simple but magical. This reminded me so much of my early elementary days when digging for old literature books for children was my thing. It was reminiscent of the stories in the children’s local school books – the tone, the setting. My own Lola was a teacher, you see, and I do think that sparked my love for reading at an early age.

“I don’t want to lose anything. Not again.”

The moment before the party, that conversation with her Lola, broke my heart. Maybe I was more affected than necessary – but I can’t help it because it did reminded me so much of my grandmother. The storytelling, the gentleness, the love. Each mention of the Tala’s Lola sent me gasping for air because I can clearly see my own with her’s.

The ending made me cry. And the description of the dress won’t leave my mind. If I could draw a proper sketch, I might’ve made one – but, alas, I can’t.There was such mystery to the star maiden myth, that fed my curious mind – is her Lola telling the truth? Is she really a star maiden, tied to the Earth, and destined to come back to where she really belong? I would never know. But one thing’s for sure: this story is such a magic to behold as it is entertaining to read. Kudos, to Roshani for this one.

You can read the full story HERE.


Quotable Quotes:

The curse is to love, and be loved in return, and still have to leave.”

This story, The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi, is originally a part of Shimmer zine #26. This is the first I finished for my #AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge for Science Fiction and Fantasy with an Asian Main Character#ownvoices

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Auditor by profession and a 'round-the-clock geek 🤓 from the 🇵🇭 and currently based in Belfast. I'm a coffee-holic INTJ with an unhealthy obsession with books and stationery. I word-vomit over at Twitter and posts book pics at Instagram: @pagesandcc . I also blog at .

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