Why I picked it: I mean, have you seen the cover? *drools* I first heard about this book on Instagram from Lisa Parkin, creator of Uppercase Box a couple of months ago (I’ll admit, I’m stretching to fit this in this particular Popsugar Challenge category). The stupidly pretty cover led me to look it up on Goodreads, where the description—Magic! Marriage! India!—cemented a place for it on my TBR. I really wanted to get my hands on it early, but my first couple of attempts at snagging an ARC were unsuccessful. Enter Goodreads Giveaway, which along with the publisher, St. Martin Griffin, hooked me up with a copy a couple weeks prior to publication! #Bookmail is the best mail.
Blurb in brief: “Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen? Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…”
What I thought: Chokshi’s writing is a decadent smorgasbord of vivid and lush description. From the very first words, I wanted to crawl between the pages and live in Maya’s world for awhile:
“Staring at the sky in Bharata was like exchanging a secret. It felt private, like I had peered through the veil of a hundred worlds…I could see where the winds yawned with silver lips and curled themselves to sleep. I could glimpse the moon folding herself into crescents and half-smiles. When I looked up, I could imagine and existence as vast as the sky. Just as infinite. Just as unknown.”
The whole mood of this story reminded me immediately of The Night Circus, which is a very good thing: dense, poetic prose is my jam, and I found this story a pleasure to read. If I had to find fault with the novel, I’d confess that sometimes Chokshi’s gorgeous word painting overpowers her pacing. The plot doesn’t unfold steadily, with some points spun out slowly for the reader to savor and digest, while others are summarily dispensed with. However, as this is really more folktale or fairy tale than literary fiction, I wasn’t bothered by it overly much—villains and princes and gods in this genre rarely have complex motivations to explore. Be prepared to read this one late into the night and to fall asleep afterwards with visions of jeweled gardens and white horses and magic mirrors dancing in your head.
My rating: 4/5; Goodreads rating: 4.18/5