Title: A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publication Date: March 2017
Two Sentence Synopsis: Princess Gauri of Bharata is a prisoner in an enemy kingdom. Vikram, not wanting to become a puppet king once he succeeds his father, gives Gauri the chance to escape.
Review: I was a bit hesitant to read this book, the sequel to The Star-Touched Queen, because of Chokshi’s love of flowery, metaphorical language. However, I really did enjoy this book a lot more than the first one. Perhaps I found the characters more compelling and the story more interesting — an adventure rather than a mystery love story — but whatever the reason, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Chokshi introduced both of the major characters that this novel centres on in the previous book. Gauri was still a young child and the only person in the harem that really cared about Maya. We saw her once as a young adult right before going off to battle. Vikram appeared in a vision on the tapestry of fate when Maya was still learning about her powers and how she fit in in her new kingdom. In A Crown of Wishes both characters are young adults who wish their situations different. Gauri wants to get her corrupt brother off of the Bharata throne. Vikram wants to be more than just a puppet king controlled by a council when he inherits the throne. Gauri’s uprising fails and her brother sends her across the border to be captured by an enemy kingdom. Vikram’s father’s council knows that the king adopted him as a young boy and use it to control him. Highly intelligent and well-read, Vikram knows he’s being offered a chance to finally have the chance to become a true king when a mysterious man gives him an invitation for two entries into the tournament of wishes. The prince also knows of Gauri’s battle experience and prowess with weapons and gives the princess the opportunity to join him.
I really enjoyed the juxtaposition between these two characters, as well. Vikram is a well-read optimist and clever with his words. He can run, but he’s not very efficient with weapons. Gauri knows her myths from hearing her sister Maya tell them to her as a child and is a ferocious warrior who doesn’t trust anyone. Vikram usually looks well-put together and Gauri uses her beauty as another weapon and armour as the harem mothers taught her. Eventually, the two learn that they both have important roles to play and things turn out better when they work together and don’t instinctively react.
One really interesting aspect of A Crown of Wishes is the introduction of a side character named Aasha who is a vishakanya, a young woman who has poison in her blood and can kill by just touching them. They feed on desires to survive. Aasha struggles with not being able to touch anyone or anything. She also wants to know what things taste like, since everything she eats tastes like ash.
Of course, there’s a love story written in, too. That was probably my least favourite part of the novel, but all-in-all, it didn’t bug me too much. Vikram and Gauri did have chemistry and their relationship developed organically and didn’t feel forced.
Overall, this book was a good read. If you don’t like flowery language, I would suggest avoiding it, but if you don’t mind language like that, and really enjoy fantasy and vibrant world-building based on Hindu tradition*, you should check out this book.
* I think in my review of The Star-Touched Queen I thought it was pre-Islamic Middle East, but I’ve since learned that it is indeed Indian and Hindu mythology that the supernatural creatures are based on.