A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Macmillan- St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
I think sometimes the truest wish of all is not needing to make one…
War is brewing; Gauri, the Jewel of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s neighbor and sworn enemy, Ujijain. Execution awaits her and plans for escape seem less plausible with each passing hour. Yet, on the day of her scheduled death, Vikram, the prince of Ujijain, offers her a way out: she must accompany him to the Tournament of Wishes to win a wish from the Lord of Wealth. This wish could give both Gauri and Vikram the deepest desires of their hearts.
Both royals soon learn that getting to the Tournament is a test in and of itself and if they don’t learn to cast off their prejudices and fears, there’s no way that the two of them will survive. All along the way, Gauri and Vikram come face to face with threat of extreme failure, lost hope, fear, and love; for nothing is more costly or dangerous than that which you most desire.
It’s no secret how much I loved the companion novel, The Star-Touched Queen, when I read it last year. Roshani Chokshi’s writing style is still beautiful and lusciously visual, the romance was actually beautiful and not cringe-worthy, and the mythical elements were unique and interesting. In all, I thought it was an incredible fantasy and honestly didn’t think it was possible for anything to be better than The Star-Touched Queen. Yet, I was wrong. I found that A Crown of Wishes had an even better plot than it’s predecessor, and it follows a completely different character who wasn’t in the first book all that much.
This companion novel follows Gauri, the younger sister of Maya, the main character in the first installment. Gauri has had a rough life since Maya left and that has placed quite the chip on Gauri’s shoulder. She’s alone, trapped in a palace with her ruthless brother, Skanda, who is singlehandedly ruining the kingdom of Bharata. When Skanda tosses her out and throws her deep into enemy territory, she knows he means for her to die and never return. Meanwhile in the neighboring country of Ujijain, Vikram is deeply unsatisfied with his life; he’s haunted by a tragedy that occurred in his youth and the fact that, despite being Prince, he has no real power and is stuck acting as a puppet on behalf of an ignorant council. Vikram’s intellect, hopes, and dreams mean nothing to this council, for they do not actually acknowledge him as Prince.
When Kubera, the Lord of Wealth, extends two invitations to Vikram to attend his Tournament of Wishes, Vikram seizes the opportunity to pull Gauri into his schemes. Getting themselves to the tournament proves to be an immense challenge, and it seems as though the universe is throwing every possible obstacle into their way. However, when Vikram and Gauri finally arrive at the Tournament of Wishes, the lush, mysterious world of the “game” is unpredictable and completely seductive. I loved that the tournament seemed to challenge each of our heroes in very different ways; their partnership in the game is presented as an illusion initially, but Vikram realizes that he needs Gauri’s strength, and she needs his wit and humor. Over time, the competition reveals how they both need each other to win, and that they aren’t as different from one another as they might have initially believed. Together, they make quite the competitors.
The tournament is a lush playing field of seduction and intrigue. Similarly to The Star-Touched Queen, Chokshi pulls the reader into Indian mythology and brings the gods and goddesses right off the pages into your reality. I loved the side stories about Queen Tara who cursed anyone who ate fruit off of her trees, which were manifestations of her intense pain and anguish; I loved the story about the serpent king and his lover, the river Kauveri (Kaveri?). Chokshi brings all of this luscious mythology to life by connecting their stories to Gauri and Vikram. I also loved the new character of Aasha, a Vishakanya. Vishakanyas are human-like creatures who’s touch is deadly to humans. Aasha feels the absence intimacy and closeness in her own existence, and you couldn’t help but love her and her desire for friendship and love.
All in all, Roshani Chokshi did it again. The ending to this companion novel wrapped Gauri and Vikram’s story up so well, I walked away in a haze of bliss. I absolutely loved A Crown of Wishes and cannot wait to read more from this incredible YA author.