Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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 is the second installment in author Roshani Chokski's The Star-Touched Queen series. The story is actually being sold as a companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen. Let's call it the sequel. This is story features two entirely different characters from Maya and Amar. This time out readers are introduced to Vikram, the Fox Prince, and Gauri, Princess and Jewel of Bharata who just happens to be Maya's younger sister. In the beginning of this story, Vikram receives an invitation from the Lord of Wealth & Treasures to participate in The Tournament of Wishes
It is a game that will happen when the century comes to a close. The winner of the game will be granted a wish of their hearts desire. But, there is a catch. Vikram is expected to show up with a second person. "Find the one who grows with blood on the lips and fangs in the heart." That person is Gauri who has spent the past 6 months in a dungeon after being betrayed and sent away by her brother to die. The second catch is that they have only a few days to get there before the gates close and that means entering the Crossroads and the Night Bizarre where Maya also traveled to in the previous installment.
As with the first installment, A Crown of Wishes is once again steeped with Indian mythology. By Indian, I mean originating from India just so we are clear. To be perfectly honest, I had my smart phone by my side the entire time I was reading this book so that when terms popped up that I had no clue what they meant, I googled them. There are a whole lot of Indian driven names for almost everything including gods of the Wind, Waters, Fire, and Chaos. In a way, this book is very similar to another I have recently read, Caraval.
Gauri and Vikram couldn't be any more different. Gauri is fearless as they come, and battle hardened, and yes, perhaps a bit blood thirsty for revenge on those who betrayed her. Gauri has fought for her country only to see her brother become more and more evil to the point where she had no future. So, given the chance for revenge, she joins Vikram in his journey to the land of treasures. Vikram is a prince who has had to prove himself over and over again. He is a dreamer which makes his life a bit more intriguing than just showing up at boring council members only to be completely ignored.
He is supposed to be the heir to his kingdom, but there are those who would force him to do their bidding. Gauri would risk life and limb to get her kingdom back, and take her rightful place as Queen. While Gauri and Vikram are the "main" characters of this story. There is a third. Her name is Aasha and I have to say that I really loved her view of the world she has been living in for the past 100 years. I loved her connection and her choices she made in helping Gauri and Vikram. She even has her own goals, and desires, and when given the opportunity to participate in her own game, she does her best.
This is a story filled with twists, riddles, gamesmanship, life or death challenges, and yes, of course, romance. The romance in this case is one that is slow burn, and not quick to the trigger. We also get a brief appearance by Maya. Just a enough to whet your whistle, but not enough to over take Gauri's choices. Chokski is a clever writer. Her pacing is pretty steady and isn't filled with nonsensical silliness that can overwhelm a story. Chokski creates intriguing characters, and badass heroines. She writes about a world that is magical at its foundation, and dark and deadly at the same time.
“Vicious and sweet,” said Vikram, shaking his head. “Beastly girl.”
“You like me, don’t lie,” I teased.
“I couldn’t lie if I tried,” he said quietly.”
“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?”
“Love is like Death without the guarantee of its arrival. Love may not come for you, but when it does it will be just as swift and ruthless as Death and just as blind to your protestations. And just as Death will end one life and leave you with another, so will Love.”