Monday 11 September 2023

Book Review: The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi book cover

AD* | Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed they would live happily ever after - and in exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past.

But when Indigo learns that her estranged aunt is dying and the couple is forced to return to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom will soon find himself unable to resist. For within the crumbling manor’s extravagant rooms and musty halls, there lurks the shadow of another girl: Azure, Indigo’s dearest childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. As the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets, the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage... or their lives.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride beckons readers with its sumptuous prose and Gothic atmosphere. However, its plot ultimately falls short.

From the first page, Chokshi's writing casts a spell. Her words are a tapestry of beauty; a seductive dance of lyrical descriptions and haunting imagery that wraps around you like a silken shroud. The book is undeniably a literary feast. If you savour every word, every sentence, for its sheer aesthetic delight, this novel is a banquet waiting to be devoured. Chokshi's gift for language is evident in every paragraph, and her ability to create an atmosphere both eerie and enchanting is truly impressive.

The story unfolds as a man enamoured with myths and fairy tales - the bridegroom - marries the enigmatic Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. Their union is shrouded in mystery and secrets, and as part of the arrangement, the bridegroom must never pry into Indigo's past. However, when circumstances force them to return to Indigo's childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom's curiosity gets the better of him. He begins to unravel the enigma of his bride's past.

One of the novel's strengths lies in its portrayal of the toxic friendship between Indigo and her childhood friend, Azure. Chokshi skillfully delves into the complexities of their relationship, revealing how Indigo manipulates Azure despite her own feelings and reservations. The dynamics between the two characters are captivating and add depth to the narrative.

However, despite the book's undeniable strengths, it is not without its flaws. One of the major issues is the alternating viewpoints between the bridegroom and Azure. While this narrative choice could have added depth and complexity to the story, it often falls flat due to the striking similarity in the voices of the two narrators. It becomes challenging to discern who is speaking at times, leading to confusion and disconnection from the characters' individual experiences.

Furthermore, the fairytale aspect of the plot feels disjointed and underdeveloped. While the writing exudes a fairytale-like quality, the fantasy elements never fully mesh with other aspects of the story, such as Azure's troubled home life.

Another significant drawback is the unresolved nature of several plot points. For instance, at the beginning of the book, the bridegroom embarks on a quest to find a grimoire. However, this plot thread is left hanging and is never revisited or resolved.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a novel of contradictions. On the one hand, it boasts exquisite prose and a Gothic atmosphere that wraps the reader in its seductive embrace. On the other hand, the plot struggles to live up to its promise of enchantment. If you are a reader who revels in beautiful writing and is content to be swept away by the cadence of words, this book may hold a special allure for you. However, if you seek substance and a tightly woven plot, you may be disappointed. 

Personally, I found myself torn between admiration for the ornate writing style and frustration with the book's lack of narrative momentum. Ultimately, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride was a struggle for me to finish. While it may find its audience among those who value style over substance, it was not a wholly satisfying reading experience.

Rating: 2 stars

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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