A Crown of Wishes is a YA fantasy that explores themes of self-identity and love that is wonderfully written by Roshani Chokshi. The book is set in the same universe as The Star-Touched Queen but it is not a direct sequel and follows the story of Maya’s little sister, Guari.
Despite her fierce reputation as the warrior princess of Bharata, Guari’s become an enemy of the state thanks to her brother’s political machinations to take over the thrown. She is sent to a neighboring kingdom where it’s expected she’ll be executed. Prince Vikram, however, doesn’t want his first political act to be the execution of a neighboring princess and a out is given to them both in the form of an entry ticket to a magical tournament where the winners each receive one wish. Vikram asks Guari to be his partner in the tournament, and seeing little choice Guari reluctantly agrees. And so our journey begins.
When I read The Star-Touched Queen last year I fell in love with Roshani Chokshi’s prose. Here it’s improved even more, it’s now both evocative and efficient in conveying the stories of her characters. Her descriptions are great at painting a picture, especially once we enter the fantasy world of the tournament.
This is very much a character driven story, which is just my sort of thing. We’re taken along this journey of discovery based on the characters needs. Guari wants to rule her kingdom and oust her brother from the thrown as he is very much a villain. She loves her people and wants what is best for them. She also wants to restore her own reputation. She is, perhaps, a little bit too confident at times, and so very sure of her actions that she sometimes misses seeing things around her even when they may be obvious to others. Vikram, meanwhile, is a prince that is struggling with self-doubt. Harboring a secret that would destroy his chance at the thrown if it were to be revealed, he’s having a bit of an identity crisis. He thinks he would make a good leader, but he doesn’t know if he deserves it, or if he is qualified, and feels like an impostor even though his father has the utmost faith in him. It’s once our characters are on their magical journey and that they are tested again and again that they begin to grow as people, forced to work together and face up to their own weaknesses.
I loved the relationship between Guari and Vikram. Their differences in personality actually make them a rather good fit for one another, and watching them come to care for each other through exploring their faults had the effect of highlighting their strengths. Vikram might be one of my favorite heroes in a story. He’s thoughtful and patient and just a bit cheeky. Often times male heroes, especially in stories where there’s a strong romantic element, are painted as serious, brooding, or hyper-masculine so it’s such a treat to read about a slightly different type of hero. I loved that the typical gender roles were played with a little bit where we have the princess that is a warrior and a prince that is a bit of a book nerd.
Overall I really loved A Crown of Wishes. The prose is wonderful, the characters are well-created and have great arcs, and the romance was beautifully executed. Will definitely read more from this author in the future. 5/5 stars.