Roshani Chokshi ~ The Last Tale of the Flower Bride
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.
This was a unique story, with plenty of visualisation and subtle magic, that hints at it being a modern fairytale, although it’s more of a nod to Bluebeard than Cinderella, despite references to both.
I will say however that without the implied magical elements, this book would have been nothing more than a YA book, with irritating teenage angst and childish misdemeanours, which is a shame.
The author also felt the need to explain the reveal in almost patronising detail, even though it was painfully obvious from the minute the two girls were introduced. From speaking to a few other readers, everyone has figured it out very early on, so this seems unnecessary.
However it does have something that makes it readable. It’s a little slow at times, but overall it’s an interesting story reminisce of Grimm rather than Disney. With this in mind, I would’ve liked more darkness, as it felt tame in places and the author could have pushed the cruelties and violence a bit further to ensure it felt more grown-up than young adult.
Thanks to Hodder Books for my proof copy. Opinions my own.