Hardcover, 369 pages
Published March 28th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Raincoast Books
A Crown of Wishes is Chokshi’s second novel and focuses on Gauri, Maya’s sister. Unlike her sister who spent her time lost in her dreams and her stories of magic, Gauri is a much more practical sort. She has to be, contending as she is with a corrupt older brother who seems determined to run the country to ruin. The novel opens with Gauri languishing in a prison in an enemy country, still reeling from a betrayal that has her exiled, helpless, and most certainly headed to an execution.
On the other side is Vikram who is crown prince only in name, having no royal blood and only a claim to the throne through his adopted father. Even if he is crowned king, all he will be is a puppet king. Vikram urges for legitimacy, for power more than in just name. He meets a strange being, right out of myth, who promises to grant him his wishes if only he will win a tournament.
He can only win this tournament with a partner and who else but Gauri, who is in the same dire straits as him, to fill that role? The only problem is that Gauri is too scared to believe in the magic that is required to not just play the game but to win it.
The best part of this novel is the razor sharp and electric banter between the two leads. Their conversations are funny and reveal much about their characters. The characters themselves are engaging and dynamite; I particularly enjoyed Chokshi’s depiction of Gauri who is a much stronger and much more vibrant character than Maya was. Vikram is droll but there is always a hint of vulnerability to him that saves him from being annoying.
The underlying mythology (can you call it mythology if the people the stories belong to consider it very much reality?) is fantastic and illustrates the extraordinary care and research that must have been done to create the world in which this book is set. I am, obviously, speaking as someone from outside the community so I may have missed some nuance but on the whole, I really like the glimpses and stories interwoven through the primary narrative; these give the book a substantial depth which adds to the entire reading experience.
I definitely enjoyed the romance a whole lot more in this book particularly because the two leads are on an equal setting where power and status are concerned. Chokshi also avoids the insta-love trope and spends time developing the romance which pays off in the end.
All in all, A Crown of Stars is immensely enjoyable and contains everything (fiesty heroine, witty hero, tight plot) that anyone could want in a book. I recommend it.