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.
A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2)Featured
An enthralling, beautifully crafted YA fantasy—laced with Indian lore and memorable characterization.
Gauri is a betrayed and deposed princess, determined to reclaim her kingdom from the clutches of her corrupt brother. Vikram is the adopted son of an eccentric king, determined to prove his worthiness before he assumes the throne. And The Lord of Wealth just might be willing to grant them favor… if they don’t kill each other, first.
Chokshi’s prose is something akin to literary painting. Delivering both broad and fine strokes, working a keen depth and vibrancy into every description and character. With steady pacing, distinct character voices, and lingering profundity, it trends more toward the lilting than the verbose. Such lovely and thoroughly quotable writing is a rarity.
The romance is as exceptional as it is enjoyable. Beginning from a place of assassination-at-first-sight (on Gauri’s overtly aggressive part), readers are treated to a slow-burn attraction that is gradually built through companionable shared goals. The catalyst of magical insight into each other’s painful pasts lends their relationship a vulnerability and intimacy that neither chose, and yet both must choose how to utilize. This reader is, admittedly, a sucker for seeing a strong alpha female offset and complemented by a witty, cunning beta male. And that is essentially what we have here. The Fox Prince and the warrior princess ‘Jewel of Bharata’—a chemistry that begs to be remembered.
I may have swooned a little. >.>
Note: I am NOT, generally speaking, a swooner.
Really, it’s the banter between them that got me. I don’t think I’ve ever so looked forward to two people bickering.
"You're welcome, by the way, for dragging you back here. I had a couple offers to sell you and almost considered it."
"Intriguing. For how much?"
"A bag of gold, the ability to make thunderstorms go to sleep. Something else. Five goats?"
"Just five goats? I'm worth at least ten. Plus a cow."
"They say morning light reveals a woman's true nature. My condolences to your future consort."
"It's too early in the morning for bloodshed," I groaned.
While I could understand and somewhat relate to Gauri, her myopic tendencies and quick temper sometimes made it a frustrating chore to be in her head.
"My intentions might have been rooted in good, but they always grew thorns in the end."
Vikram, on the other hand, was a joy. Philosophical, whimsical, and borderline lackadaisical—he has a delightfully unique temperament for a hero. The way he uses humor to deflect and process his real emotions both rings true and resonates tellingly with everyone around him.
“The truth was that he was not afraid of being seen for what he was. He was afraid of being seen as someone who could never be more."
My only qualm would have to be the worldbuilding. Not that it wasn’t intricate and fascinating—particularly with all the interwoven bits of Hindu mythology. No, the issue was more one of uncertainty regarding the magical elements. Once our hero and heroine leave their natural world and enter the fantastical realm of Alaka, the rules of engagement turn decidedly murky. It often felt as though anything could happen for almost any reason, and our protagonists—never mind the readers—couldn’t hope to guess at the rules and limitations of the unhuman inhabitants of this haphazardly wonderous place. (i.e. think ancient Indian version of Alice in Wonderland.) Readers may sometimes be confused over how to gauge possible danger, and just how permeant consequences may be, while the setting remains in Alaka—which does constitute roughly 2/3rds of the book. I’d recommend going into this story aware you may have to just go with the flow.
This book stands alone perfectly well. I have yet to read The Star-Touched Queen, and at no point did I suspect I was missing anything from it. I am, however, intrigued enough that I’d be willing to go back and give it a try.
*"Maybe that's why the best laughs tend to break free on the edge of lightless horror. Only then can they give wings to a drooping spirit."
Vikram’s eyes widened. “What’s this? Praise from Her Beastliness in the morning? Are you under a curse that makes you friendly before noon? If so, how do we make it permanent?”
A Crown of Wishes follows Gauri and Vikram both princess and prince of neighbouring warring kingdoms, who take part in a deadly tournament of wits and magic. They both have nothing left to lose and take risks for their kingdom and people. Gauri wants her lecherous brother off her throne and to be able to rule her kingdom whether she’s an unmarried woman or not. Vikram the sly fox prince will never be seen as a true ruler and being surrounded by a council of vipers he must never let his mask slip, he must be cunning and swift and prove he can rule regardless of his heritage.
“It felt silly to say that he couldn’t bear to lose her. He never had her. She was not a thing to be possessed. But her entrance in his life had conjured light. And losing the light of her would plunge him into a darkness he’d never find his way out of.”
The romance is a slow burn and highly addictive, if this is your type of romance then you will find yourself flying through the pages, highly anticipating the next interaction with a wildly beating heart. Gauri and Vikram have chemistry straight away, Gauri may have tried to kill Vikram in the beginning buy hey that’s just how Gauri is - stab ask questions later. I really don't want to say too much about this book because I feel it's one that the reader should go into slightly blind but I will say it's perfectly paced with lots of mythology and mystery to keep you entertained.
He turned to me, mischief glinting in his eyes.
“How do they celebrate good fortune in Bharata? In Ujijain, we kiss."
“Are you sure? You spend an awful amount of time looking at my lips.”
“That’s only because I’m horrified at the sheer idiocy of the words leaping out of them.”
I highly recommend A Crown of Wishes for fantasy fans and for suckers for magical retellings with their own unique twist. Chokshi has such a lyrical way of writing, she has the ability to pull you into the story and allow you to experience everything first hand. I never wanted to leave the magical world with its lush wildlife and vivid scenery. I’m eagerly awaiting the short story Death and Night as I can’t wait to revisit the dazzling world Chokski has created.