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.
Author Roshani Chokshi described this novel as more a sister or companion novel to her THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, and it definitely is. You can start with this story and follow every bit of it just fine. If you read THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, you may remember Vikram as the boy from the tapestry Maya asks about. Gauri, of course, is Maya’s sister.
A CROWN OF WISHES contains the same mythical feel and style as her debut. I forgot how much I loved that until. If you liked BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS by Shannon Hale, you absolutely need to check out this series. I loved the characters and felt like they make a balanced team. Gauri is a warrior—both in her talent for battle and the fierceness of her heart. She will fight for those she loves any way she can. I liked that Vikram doesn’t challenge her head-to-head. He listens, analyzes, and then acts, often outwitting his opponent. As the two face challenges, both those strengths become necessary. I loved the balance they brought to one another.
Also, I can’t forget Aasha, whose courage totally stole the show. At first, I wasn’t sure I really cared enough about her story to follow it with much interest. Soon enough, though, I felt just as much for her as Gauri and Vikram. I loved that she had this dream so far outside what her desires were supposed to be. She became this sort of glaring exception to the rules, and I couldn’t help rooting for someone whose greatest desire was, at its heart, to have her humanity again. Her point-of-view and part of the story were another unexpected gem. I’m starting to think Roshani Chokshi’s superpower is to create characters who seem like they should be unlikeable and make you adore them.
If you’re a fan of fairytales or mythology, you definitely want to add this book to your shelves along with THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN.
Features Indian characters and creatures from Indian folklore and mythology.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used fewer than ten times.
When Gauri and Vikram agree to partner in the tournament, they do not realize that to partner they must be lovers. They agree to pretend for others, but in their private lives, they maintain distance from one another.
The last night of the tournament is a celebration in which everyone is to pair up with a lover. We understand that Gauri and Vikram see others paired up and, er, celebrating, but no details. We do witness the exchange of some kisses.
The story contains magic and mythical creatures. On their journey to the tournament where they hope to win a wish, Gauri and Vikram meet a group of Vishakanya women, who feed on desires and whose touch will poison them to death. They form an agreement with a vetala, a being of incorporeal evil who steals bodies to continue to exist. The vetala promises to help them if they help him find his next body. At one point Gauri and Vikram listen to a story about a river who fell in love with a man.
They eventually learn that the tournament began the moment they accepted the invitation. They recognize the lord of the tournament as someone who they’ve met along the journey as well.
The story challenges Gauri and Vikram’s beliefs about good and evil. More than once, creatures they believed to be evil defy their expectations and turn out to be noble or good. Ultimately, A CROWN OF WISHES explores the meaning of love and how love—both in friendship and as lovers—affects our choices.
Gauri briefly remembers her time spent as a soldier. She carries special knives at all times, ready for a fight. At one point, a group of Vanara, monkey-like creatures capture them and threaten to have them executed. .
Gauri eats a golden apple, a fruit that gives her supernatural strength for a time.