Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!
There's a lot of upheaval in moving house, and reading isn't something one often has time to do much of, but I'm choosing books which allow me to savor and enjoy them in snatches. This is one!
Synopsis: There were only impossible decisions left, and then Gauri, the princess of Bharata, was given as a prisoner of war to her kingdom’s enemies. They were supposed to kill her - but instead, Gauri was offered a choice: to play in the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor - for the chance to gamble on everything and win it all - her kingdom back, her respect, the lives of her family and loved ones. But, is it even possible, to change everything on a single wish?
Vikram is the son of a king, for all the good it will do him. A weak king, led by his counselors, a man whose petty cruelties have raised his son to a high estate that he can never possibly maintain. He has a title, but no power, and now he's being offered entrance to the Game... and a chance to have it all. Only, he has to have a partner. This prisoner of war - fierce and sharp-tongued - is hardly the best choice, but she's all he's got, in order to get a chance.
The Lord of Wealth is twisty, and just finding the city where the Tournament is held thrusts Vikram and Gauri into mortal peril. There's too much to battle - too much real, and too many things from their own minds. There's really no way to win, and even if they do make it through -- only one wish? What good will that do?
As long as there's a chance, though, neither combatant - contestant - will give up. Is it worth working together? Can they trust their hearts, to give them what they desire? As beautiful, poison-skinned women swan about, feasting on their fears, and clouds of storytelling birds flutter past, nothing is as it seems - and everything is worth more than they could have wanted...and wanting anything is deadly.
Observations: Though this is a second book in a series, it reads, to me, as a book which could easily stand alone, so can be honestly called simply a "companion novel." The first book in this series enthralled many; this second book will make believers out of many more. It's even better than the first, by my lights.
I dislike having to put books down, and prefer to be a stem-to-stern reader, swallowing stories whole, but that's not always an option. This book is delightfully lush and filled with beautifully descriptive allegory, which can be digested in small bites. I'm reminded of a South Asian Odyssey, with shades of Christina Rosseti's "Goblin Market," and shades of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. There's a lot of loveliness here to take in, and I imagine fans of Cornelia Funke's INKHEART will find common ground here.
Conclusion: I love an adventure story which takes readers through the looking glass and down the metaphorical rabbit hole. Thrown together, two vastly different type of people must first see the value in each other's ways, then together, determine how best to travel the labyrinthine mythical lands and interpret clues and hints to find the Lord of Wealth, and beg entrance to the Game of these magical beings, most of which consider humans great sport, and tasty around the spinal cord... The beautifully written story is evocative and thought-provoking, and there are so many lovely turns of phrase. Also, a lot of sarcasm, anger, and a girl who's the fastest draw in the West with her dagger and sword. Surprisingly fun.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. After March 28th, you can find A CROWN OF WISHES by Roshani Chokshi at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!