Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Length: 352 pages
Source: eGalley via NetGalley
Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds friendship and warmth.
But Akaran has its own secrets - thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran's magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar's plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk - it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.
Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.
Inspired by Indian mythology.
Protagonist: Maya has lived her whole life under a dark cloud. Because of the horoscope she was assigned at birth, people treat her differently. She's looked down upon by the other women in her father's harem and even by most of her siblings. After a few near fatal series of events she finds herself married to Amar and queen of a country she's never heard of, and has to trust in Amar to tell her things when the time is right. For the most part I really liked the character of Maya, she's strong willed and wise, but she still has flaws. She has trust issues that pretty much are the cause of the main drama in this book. Overall though I really liked her development as a character even if there were times when things seemed to move forward too quickly.
Romance: At first this romance moves fairly slow. Things are handled delicately and I really started to root for Maya and Amar, then pretty much everything went to hell. I don't mind a bit of adversity and hardship in the relationships I read about, in fact I prefer it as it usually makes for a more realistic and enjoyable romance, however the way the adversity of this romance was done really weird. I'll try and explain with as few spoiler as possible, but essentially toward the middle of this book the drama surrounding this romance come to a head before I've definitively decided how I feel one way or another, and then I'm just kind of told what to feel, and it made for a really uneven romance.
World-Building: So I don't know that much about Indian mythology, in fact I'm pretty sure I knew nothing at all before going into this book and I'm not sure how much this is inspired by the mythology or if it actually takes stories and concepts from the mythology itself. Either way though the world building of this book was done really well. The journey Maya goes on, the things she sees, everything just sort of comes together and meshes well. The world is large and vibrant and the mythological spin put on it made this an unforgettable fantasy standalone.
Predictability: So I'd say for about the first half of this book or so I felt like I knew where things wer going, I knew what to expect in terms of twists and turns this book would take. Then things got really cloudy. Much like Maya I had some trust issues with characters, trust issues that weren't completely explained, but I digress. The second part of this book is very different from the first and while it's not hard to predict how basic and vague concepts would go, there were still a lot of smaller things that surprised me going into the end of this book.
Ending: So there's a lot to this ending. First off there's a lot that's explained and questions that have just been festering for a lot of the book finally get answered right before the final climax. The final climax was a bit of let down. Things just happened way too quickly and easily and I would have really loved more of a fight or more a struggle to get there, at least a physical struggle, not an emotional one. Since this is a standalone everything is neatly tied up, though I sort of hope the author returns to this world, there still seems to be much to explore in this world, even if it's not about these specific characters.
There's a lot about this book that I loved and if you're looking for a great standalone fantasy novel, look no further than this one. However I wasn't all that jazzed about the uneven romance and there were still a couple of things left a bit unclear by the end.