Last year The Star-Touched Queen was one of my favorite books of the year and this year Roshani Chokshi’s follow up novel, A Crown of Wishes promises to be an even bigger favorite of mine. Capturing all the lyrical and mythical elements of the last novel, A Crown of Wishes expands upon her already established world but also thematically addresses the power of something very near and dear to my heart: stories.
The coup planned by Maya’s younger sister Gauri has failed and she has landed in the custody of the kingdom of Ujijain whose relationship with Bharata is tenuous and possibly dependent on whether or not they kill her––which is what her brother dearly wants. Vikram, the prince of Ujijain, cannot convince his adoptive father’s council to take him seriously or grant him more than just superficial power over the nation as his father plans to retire. He is tasked with informing Gauri of her approaching execution but a messenger of sorts reaches him first with an invitation to the Tournament of Wishes held by the King of Riches in Alaka, one of the kingdoms of the Otherworld. The invitation is for him and a partner matching Gauri’s description. Rather than announce her death, he gives her the choice to join him in the tournament or not. And so their story begins.
With themes pertaining to desire, fear, choice, and the power of narrative woven throughout, A Crown of Wishes is enchanting in its prose and resonant in its messages. Examining the differences between desire and need, between justice and vengeance, and the important role perspective plays in how events around us unfold––in the way our stories take shape and evolve—A Crown of Wishes makes relatively familiar thematic ground feel fresh and new. There is such lyrical beauty in Chokshi’s prose and the ways that the kingdoms of the Otherworld blend magic and myth.
All of the characters in the novel—even the secondary ones—are incredibly developed and well rounded, none more so than the two leads. The interplay between Gauri and Vikram is charged and playful in all the right ways, deepening their connection and intimacy naturally so that their relationship is not only believable but healthy throughout. They balance one another beautifully as their struggles parallel each other while manifesting in significantly different ways. I greatly appreciated how even their narrative voices reflected their personal struggles as they made their way to and through the tournament, with Gauri’s perspective narrated in the first person while Vikram’s was presented in third person.
While readers of The Star-Touched Queen will be a little familiar with Maya’s beloved younger sister Gauri, it is by no means necessary to read The Star-Touched Queen first or at all. A Crown of Wishes stands resolutely on its on. I very much hope that there will be additional novels in this series as there are several characters tangential to this particular tale whose stories I would be eager to get larger glimpses of in the future.
A Crown of Wishes will be available for purchase April 4, 2017.