Synopsis: “I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions — much good it did me.” So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear. Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her. But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak — and what legacy she intends to leave behind. A stunning debut from a powerful new voice, Kaikeyi is a tale of fate, family, courage, and heartbreak—of an extraordinary woman determined to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come.
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Retellings, LGBT, Mythology
Date of Publication: April 26th, 2022
Length: 478 pages
My rating: 5/5
“It is not weak to avoid war….It is the strongest thing you could do, to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.”
A big thank you to Netgalley and the author for the digital ARC of Kaikeyi! This book made me cry at least three separate times. Vaishnavi Patel writes beautifully, and it was easy to get sucked into the story of Kaikeyi. I loved how the story weaves a fantastic magical component into the plot without it taking over the storyline. Instead, it just adds uniqueness to the plot, bringing an added richness to the characters.
Kaikeyi is a wonderful main character, and I love how she develops over the course of the book. She’s forced to make choices that broke my heart over and over. Vaishnavi really captures the essence of motherhood in a vibrant way. All of the characters have interesting arcs, and their choices (and mistakes) really echo across the story. It was nice how everything seemed to come full circle, I felt like nothing really was left off or unanswered by the end.
The plot was not particularly fast-paced, but I don’t mind that in a book. I enjoy it when a story is well developed, and not rushing from one incident to another. I feel like it allows me to become more invested in the characters this way.
On one hand I’m sad that this book is a stand-alone, but on the other hand it was wrapped up so cleanly, nothing was left unresolved. I’m very happy that I had the opportunity to read this book, and it’s definitely a book that I will be reading again. I would recommend Kaikeyi to anyone who loves mythology/historical fiction with a dash of fantasy.
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