Updated: Jun 21, 2020
In a mythical land, both fantastical and realistic, there are two neighboring kingdoms. Gauri is a princess of one, and Vikram is the prince of the other. Both are struggling to do what is best for their people when they are unexpectedly thrown together in a chance to make their deepest wishes come true. Though they have different motives and plans, Gauri and Vikram must work together in a competition in the land of the gods, where neither of them is likely to survive. Even if they both somehow make it back, they will not be the same as when they left...
Just like The Star-Touched Queen, the sequel, A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, was an absolute masterpiece. You don’t have to read the first book to understand the second, but I would definitely recommend reading both! First thing: Chokshi’s writing was poetic as heck (a skill I clearly don’t have). Her words have a certain rhythm to them, which made the audiobook so fun to listen to! I know if I was reading a physical copy, I would have had to take a moment and pause every other sentence. The writing was literally art. Chokshi takes a vague concept and injects it into everyday things, giving life to both an idea and a representation of it. So many common themes, such as love and magic, are portrayed in completely original ways.
That brings me to one of my favorite quotes (one of many!):
“What was magic anyway, but the world beheld by someone who chose to see it differently?”
A huge thing in A Crown of Wishes, was the presence of magic and how each character viewed it. Gauri, having lost her sister Maya to the mysterious forces, is defensive and suspicious. She is wary to trust anything or anyone and is especially doubtful that magic can bring good things. She had been let down by her fair share of fairy tales. On the other hand, Vikram is a devoted believer. He thinks magic can make all his wishes come true. However, his unwavering faith, once portrayed as his greatest strength, begins to falter. An unlikely pair, they work together to reach different goals, and over the course of the story, both of their outlooks change: towards magic, what they want in life, and who they really are.
Talking about characters, I loved both Vikram and Gauri! Each character is intense in their own ways: Gauri with her rage and haste, Vikram with his wit and determination to prove himself. The slow-burn and enemies-to-lovers romance tropes were both there and on point! The conversations between the two were especially entertaining, and their friendly jabs at each other are hilarious. Both these characters were introduced in the first book, but received their own stories and points of view in the second, which took place some years after!
Another quote I loved:
“A story had no ownership. A story could break its bones, grow wings, soar out of reach and dive out of sight in the time it took just to draw breath. It meant we weren’t walking a cut path. We carved it into existence with every step.”
Honestly, I loved the whole book and would post it all here if I could :)
This series incorporates a lot of Indian mythology and folk tales. It is the first time I’ve read anything like this, and just the representation alone made me so happy. I could find stories I’ve heard from my grandmother, and that felt super comforting. Not to mention, I could totally see myself in both Maya and Gauri’s characters. This type of story means a lot to me personally, but overall, there are many reasons for everyone to read diverse stories.
Representation of different cultures and ethnicities in young adult novels is so important for the youth in today’s world of increasing globalization. These kinds of books can help people be more compassionate and see things from others’ points of view. Instead of immediately judging another person because they are different from us, we need to appreciate the diversity in our communities. A couple of years ago, I did not see this cultural diversity on bookshelves, and during an impressionable period of time, this shortage had a negative impact on my confidence and how I viewed myself.
Roshani inspires me through her books and as a person, and I cannot wait to read her other books!
If you enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes, you may also like:
Circe by Madeline Miller: a poetic writing style, focus on Greek mythology, themes of the beauty of humanity and impermanence. It is a lot darker than these books and not young adult.
Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron: a mysterious magic system, folk culture, mythology, and dark magic
When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon: Indian-American main characters with hilariously amazing personalities, a slow-burn romance