Book Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

by - 8:57:00 PM

 Title: A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi  
Pages: 352
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: 28 March 2017

From Goodreads: "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."

Thank you to St. Martin's Griffin and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review! All opinions are my own.

This is my first Roshani Chokshi book and oh my goodness did I adore it. I absolutely flew threw it in just a few hours and I didn't even intend to start it, let alone finish it, at this point in my reading. But it happened. Once I picked it up, her lyrical and majestic writing drew me in and wouldn't let me go. So strap in and prepare for a review that is more of a gush about how much I loved this book.

Plot:
Princess Guari has been betrayed and kidnapped as a prisoner of war by the enemies of her kingdom. Prince Vikram is struggling with being known as the future "Puppet King" because of the truth of his birth. When he receives a ruby allowing him to enter the Tournament of Wishes, Vikram offers Guari a chance at getting her kingdom back in exchange for being his partner in the tournament. The journey to the tournament is only the beginning and when they finally arrive, the two unlikely partners must face their fears, poisonous creatures, and twisted fairy tales. But the longer the tournament goes on and the more time Vikram and Guari spend together, they soon discover that the real danger lies in the things that they desire the most. The plot of this book was so exciting and unlike any I've read recently. I thought that the idea of a tournament where you could win a wish sounded super interesting and I was definitely not wrong. There was so much about this book that I was not expecting (honestly I went into this blind and requested it on a whim not thinking I would actually get approved) and I found myself wanting more and more with every turn of the page. This book moved at such a wonderful pace and everything felt like it unfolded at the perfect time, especially the relationship between Vikram and Guari. It was a story about two people fighting to win a wish to help make their lives better, but it was also so much more than that. There were also so many references to Indian culture and fairy tales that were woven in and I really think that it elevated the story to a whole new level. What I enjoyed most is that the story itself never faltered or slowed down or felt boring. There was always something new to experience on every page and that held true up until the very last word. The story itself unfolds in a way that makes you feel like you're reading a fairy tale with some seriously fantastic character development. I think that seeing the reasons as to why both of the characters are wanting to win a wish change as the book progresses is a great element to the story. You really get to see how their priorities and thoughts regarding what they would wish for change as they learn more about themselves and go through the things that they go through and I cannot commend Roshani Chokshi enough for pulling this off in such a wonderful way. You get action, magic, and a story that feels so real you could step between the pages and experience it for yourself.

Characters:
The character dynamic between Vikram and Guari was absolutely fantastic! I had so much fun watching (reading?) them go back and forth at each other and see how they worked together despite being two completely different people. Guari was strong, battle smart, independent, and sometimes incredibly impulsive. Vikram was sassy, cunning, and more social/people smart than battle smart. The relationship between the two of them was so great to watch unfold because it wasn't one that was insta-love or even insta-attraction and they took a large portion of the book to start forming a friendship. It was a very refreshing break from the usual YA insta-love that I seem to encounter more often than I'd like while reading! Their dialogue never felt forced and I found myself laughing and smiling so much throughout the book while they navigated the tournament and their growing relationship. While I was hoping that they would remain friends as I really just felt that the friendship would be stronger than something more, I can't say I'm completely unhappy that they ended up together. It's not surprising that it ends up that way (and honestly I don't believe it's a spoiler, you can really kinda see it coming) because as the book goes on, you really get to see how the things that they go through bring them closer together instead of pull them apart. Instead of letting the stress of what they're having to experience in the tournament, they work together to accomplish their tasks and grow incredibly strong as both individuals and partners. The book starts with them being enemies, then reluctant partners that are working together only because of the tournament, but they slowly grow closer as they make the journey to the tournament and while taking part in the tournament itself. Not only do the two of them grow together, but they also grow as individuals as well. At the beginning, both have their own goals and reasons for wanting to enter and win the tournament, but as the book progresses, they realize that their initial wishes are nothing like what they want at the end. Vikram wants to be known as more than just a "Puppet King" but he realizes that he only wants his potential to be seen. Guari wants her kingdom back that has been taken over by her horrible brother, but ends up realizing that she doesn't need a wish to make that happen. It was fantastic seeing the growth that they experienced on their own, outside of the relationship that eventually formed between the two of them. This is one of the best character relationships I've read in years and I really think that this book is an incredible example of a YA relationship done right.

Writing:
Where do I even begin! This book was absolutely beautiful and I could not get enough of how well it was written. The descriptions painted a picture in my mind that was beyond anything I could have imagined and every page just blew my mind over and over again. I loved how unique every setting was but how they all really felt like they fit together in that world, and I especially loved Alaka, which is where the tournament is held. I really feel that I could easily read 200+ more pages of this book with just more descriptions because it was just that amazing. The way that Roshani Chokshi can weave together words to make the reader feel like they're in the story is unlike any I've ever read and I honestly felt like I was in the middle of an incredibly intricate fairy tale. Something that I enjoyed was that this book was full of Indian culture and that's something that I've never encountered in a book before. I couldn't get enough of learning about some of the gorgeous Indian clothing that the characters wear and the food descriptions were enough to make my mouth water. It definitely got me interested in picking up more diverse books and especially books that involve more Indian culture! While reading, I found myself in absolute awe of some of the things that were said and the way that the words were strung together in such a gorgeous way. Please take a moment to read some of my favorite quotes from A Crown of Wishes:

"Nothing is yours. Not even a story is yours, though you may lay claim to it with the teeth of your mind."

"Stories are boundless and infinite, ever-changing and elusive."

"Guilt accretes. It builds and builds, whittling stairways and spires in the heart until a person can carry a city of hopelessness inside them."

"But Death commanded urgency. Death tore the skin off dreams and showed the bones underneath."

"True strength sometimes demanded unstitching everything you knew."

"Fear meant not knowing where you started and ended because control was nothing but illusion."

"Some tales that never end start with something as simple as an act of impulse and end with something as evil as an act of love."

"That is how the world ends and curses begin. Years pass, names are dropped and picked up again. Kingdoms creep closer to the shadows, waiting. And a queen turned to rock waits for a kiss."

"What was magic anyway, but the world beheld by someone who chose to see it differently?"

Seriously, this book was filled with incredibly lovely writing and those quotes are only from maybe the last 3/4th of the book. There were times that I would just stop for a moment because I couldn't believe that I was reading a book that was this aesthetically pleasing. It appealed to me on so many levels outside of just having some of the most delightful writing I've read in years. Not only did this book get me interested in reading everything else that Roshani Chokshi has written/will write, but it piqued my interest in Indian culture which is something I not only had not encountered before, but never thought that I would have this much interest in!

If it wasn't already obvious, I loved this book. It had everything I had been looking for in a YA book and things that I didn't even know I wanted. The writing was definitely some of the best I've read in years, the characters were absolutely fantastic and their relationship/friendship was perfect, and the overall story line was so unique and magical. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a new and exciting fantasy book!

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