Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2
Published: expected March 28 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.
Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.
Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.
As creative and imaginative as The Star-Touched Queen was before it, Roshani Chokshi returns to her lush fantasy world to tell the intertwined stories of Gauri, the left-behind sister of Maya and also exiled princess of Bharata, and Vikram, a sly and intelligent would-be king of a neighboring country. A Crown of Wishes is a showcase in finely-tuned language and crafting an expansive, otherwordly fantasy. Though this is only the second novel from Roshani Chokshi, her style is a breath of fresh air and her ability to create vivid worlds and people is impressive. The resulting story is unique and her characters, though new, feel familiar and complex throughout their evolving competitive give-and-take. With a high-stakes plot and liberal use of some familiar favorite tropes, Chokshi builds an elaborate, complete story in just a few hundred pages.
A Crown of Wishes is rather loosely connected to Chokshi's debut novel from a year ego; however, the plot is independent of The Star-Touched Queen and its characters, and can even be read without venturing into Maya's story first. However, I cannot recommend that approach because experiencing the world and writing of this author is descriptive privilege -- as a fan of fantasy I appreciate the ingenuity, skill, and imagination Roshani Chokshi repeatedly demonstrates in her writing. To best feel the effect of her storytelling, start with The Star-Touched Queen and then dive into the wonder of her second.
A Crown of Wishes is a strong novel across the board; both characters and story can more than stand alone on their own merits, but as a novel, it also directly benefits from Chokshi's growth as a writer. Before, in The Star-Touched Queen, her writing was stronger than the plot or the development of the individual characters. Here, those issues have changed for the better and it's hard to find a problem in any aspect of the exectuion. In A Crown of Wishes you'll find more intricate plotting, and a larger scope to both story and the world. The writing remains lushly distinct but incorporates new ideas, themes, iconography seamlessly into the texture of Gauri and Vikram's world. It's a world that feels both atmospheric and expansive -- and definitely also not pseudo-Europe.