A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi is a companion novel to the author’s debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, which has become a pretty popular book. But even though it is a companion novel, you definitely don’t have to read the first book before this one. In fact, I found A Crown of Wishes to be a lot better and easier to read than The Star-Touched Queen, but of course, that is just my own opinion.
This book is a high fantasy novel, meaning it takes place in a complete fantasy world with no hint of the modern world at all (unlike urban fantasy). Because it is high fantasy, there are some unfamiliar terms and worlds in this novel that may be a little confusing at first. But that is part of the beauty of fantasy, right? Getting to know the new world you are immersed in and learning the languages and customs.
I’m sure most of you have heard of Greek mythology. The Olympian gods and goddesses with powers and the Greek heroes that traveled the world, killing monsters and saving people? Well, A Crown of Wishes is about the world of Indian mythology. It is quite different from Greek mythology, but I found it interesting all the same, because I had never even heard of Indian mythology before reading Roshni Chokshi’s first book.
A Crown of Wishes is a dual perspective book. We get to hear from the perspectives of both the main characters.
One is a princess named Gauri. Her father, the Raja (or king) of his land, died, leaving one of Gauri’s brothers, Skanda, as the new Raja. Skanda is a selfish ruler who lets the kingdom, Bharata, slowly waste away. Gauri is brave and extremely headstrong, so she starts taking matters into her own hands. She trains to become a warrior, helps defend her people, and eventually wins all of the people of Bharata over to her side. They give her the nickname, the Jewel of Bharata. Skanda is threatened by his sister’s leadership, so he has her caught, bound up, and tossed over the borders between their kingdom and the Ujijain Empire, the empire of their enemies. Some men from Ujijain take Gauri to their king, who keeps her in his prison for quite a long time. And that is where our story starts off.
The second main character is a man named Vikram, also known as the Fox Prince. He is the prince of the Ujijain Empire (the enemy empire of Gauri’s kingdom), though not by blood. The king adopted him when his mother died. All Vikram has ever wanted was the be accepted as the new king, even though he wasn’t related to the royal line by blood. One day, Vikram gets an invitation to sort of game called the Tournament of Wishes in a kingdom called Alaka, which is in the Otherworld. The Otherworld is a different world full of mythological creatures and sights and people that most people in Vikram’s time just think are legends. The winner of the magical tournament receives one wish, and Vikram knows exactly what he is going to wish for. But before Vikram can set out to the tournament, he has to find his partner, who turns out to be Princess Gauri.
So, the Jewel of Bharata and the Fox Prince set out for Alaka. They meet many trials along the way. They encounter creatures of myths and stories that they have heard all their lives but never believed was true. They come upon the Night Bazaar, a magical place in the Otherworld where every single mythological creature imaginable gathered in a sort of market setting to sell things beyond Gauri and Vikram’s wildest dreams.
At first, Gauri’s main goal was to kill Vikram and escape back to her broken kingdom. But Vikram was a lot smarter than Gauri thought. So, Gauri and Vikram formed a sort of partnership. And after that came a beautiful friendship that two people could only share if they had experienced and seen what these two characters had experienced and seen together. Where Gauri was fierce and strong like a warrior, Vikram was smart, clever, and had a great sense of humor that was eventually able to break through the thick wall around Gauri’s heart.
Gauri and Vikram made it to Alaka in time for the Tournament of Wishes. But the terms and conditions of the Tournament were far different than they had expected. They met with both new enemies and new friends as they tried to make it through this game alive and hopefully end up with one wish.
Roshani Chokshi’s writing is absolutely gorgeous. It flows so perfectly, and I could imagine all the magic perfectly as if it were all happening right before my eyes. There are tons of fantasy books with great writing, but Roshani Chokish’s writing is simply gorgeous. Honestly, this is one of the best high fantasy books I have ever read and the vivid writing and world building is a huge part of that.
“‘Surviving isn’t just about cutting out your heart and burning every feeling into ash. Sometimes it means taking whatever is thrown at you, beautiful or grotesque, poisonous or blissful, and carving out your life with the pieces you are given.’” – Vikram, A Crown of Wishes
If you are a lover of fantasy or mythology, I totally recommend this book! If you are not, well… I still recommend it! Happy reading, and may all your wishes come true!