I absolutely loved The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, so I was thrilled to find out she was releasing a companion novel about Gauri, Maya’s little sister. While A Crown of Wishes is a companion to TSTQ, Chokshi’s signature style (I compare it to the imagery of the movie What Dreams May Come) is.
Gauri, like Maya, is a princess of Bharata. But for me, where Maya was rounded edges and sweetness, Gauri is all hard edges, sharp tongue, and sass (meaning I loved her instantly). I mean, barely a page into her story, she says she hates being told to smile. So of course I would love her.
The story follows Gauri and Vikram, who just happens to be a prince from a major enemy of Bharata.
But, when you’re invited to a tournament where the prize is a wish? You would probably team up with an enemy, too. Vikram receives an invitation to the tournament, and decides that he wants Gauri to compete alongside him, and that he’ll give her the chance to take her rightful place on the throne of her kingdom should they win.
There were many beautiful lines in this book (see below for some of my favorites), but the setting, characters, and story outshines them all. Chokshi once again weaves myth together with a deft understanding of human nature and desire to create a story everyone can find a home in—because wouldn’t everyone like to win a wish? Of course we know that winning a wish would never prove easy—for every thing gained, isn’t there always a corresponding cost or compromise we must somehow make?
But the beauty of the telling of the story, told from three (yes three, but I’m not spoiling anything) points of view, is that Gauri and Vikram gain more than anything a wish could ever provide—self-knowledge, acceptance, and inner strength. Both go into the tournament with their own insecurities, and both leave forever changed in many ways.
When you combine Chokshi’s attention to detail in setting, faithfulness to and weaving of myths, and uncanny ability to write characters who transcend her stories, A Crown of Wishes is a perfect follow-up/companion to The Star-Touched Queen, and a beautiful read besides.
Wanna check it out on audio? Here’s an excerpt!
And now, my favorite lines:
They told me they’d keep my death quick if I’d only smile for them one more time. I hated being told to smile.
You see, a story is not just a thing told to a child before sleep. A story is control.
Trusting magic was like trying to harness a thunderstorm.
My voice was one of the only things I could control—when to unleash it, when to tamp it down like a burning ember, when to grow it in secret.
True strength sometimes demanded unstitching everything you know.
Sometimes the greatest power comes not from that which we do, but that which we do not.
About the Book:
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.