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

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: February 2023
Pages: 304


A sumptuous, gothic-infused story about a marriage unravelled by dark secrets, a friendship cursed to end in tragedy, and the danger of believing in fairy tales—the breathtaking adult debut from New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi.

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.

Combining the lush, haunting atmosphere of Mexican Gothic with the dreamy enchantment of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a spellbinding and darkly romantic page-turner about love and lies, secrets and betrayal, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive.

My Thoughts…

I hadn’t read anything by Roshani Chokshi before, but after hearing a lot of praise for her YA novels over on Book Twitter, I decided to start with her adult debut, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride. The beautiful cover and the plot instantly caught my attention while browsing NetGalley, so it was a pretty automatic request. And I’m so glad I did, as this rich, dark and unique tale was SO good.

I’m honestly in love with Chokshi’s writing. It is flowery and almost poetic without ever feeling pretentious or heavily constructed. The prose flows really smoothly while at the same time perfectly painting the picture and building the atmosphere. It’s clear when reading that the book has a strong foundation in the Western literary canon, effortlessly weaving together the storytelling traditions of old and gothic romance elements with mystery and a dash of magical realism to create a classic tale for modern readers. I loved seeing how expertly the author played with old tropes and storytelling conventions to build an engaging plot and deeply flawed, difficult characters. I particularly liked the choice to reverse traditionally held roles, with Indigo being the centre of the story and the keeper of dangerous secrets, while her husband The Bridegroom remains the unnamed narrator seeking to uncover her mysteries. It was a refreshing take on classic fairytale characters (think Bluebeard) in their original, dark versions. There are also multiple references to these stories throughout, which added a layer of depth to the story.

The story is told in dual POV and in alternating timelines: in one, we follow The Bridegroom in the present as he starts being curious about his wife’s past and decides to look for answers as they visit her childhood home; in the other, we follow Azure, Indigo’s best friend from childhood who mysteriously disappeared, to watch the two girls grow up in the House of Dreams. Both storylines were great, each adding something to the story until the whole picture became clear. Hints were dropped throughout and the foreshadowing was very well crafted, but I still didn’t put all the pieces together until the end. The Bridegroom was somewhat less full as a character compared to the female ones, but it felt like a deliberate choice (much like keeping him nameless) and worked well within the story. We still get to see and understand rather a lot about him and his past, although Indigo and Azure remained far more interesting to me. Listening to the audiobook, Steve West was a marvellous narrator, really helping to bring those gothic vibes through, which massively improved my experience of the Bridegroom’s chapters.

Now the female characters are where this book truly shines. They were richly drawn, complex and flawed in a way that is hard to come across (or at least, I haven’t really recently – if you have any recommendations, please tell me in the comments!). The relationship between Indigo and Azure was fascinating, even if deeply toxic, and it was easy to understand their attraction to the faerie world and what they call the Otherworld. Their coming-of-age story is rich with subtext and really shows what it means to be a teenage girl on the verge of adulthood in a complicated, and sometimes very dark, world. Feelings take centre stage in this book, the ones that are expressed and the ones kept hidden, love and obsession intertwining until it is hard to recognise where one ends and the other begins.

I could talk about this book for a lot longer, but I won’t to avoid spoiling it all. Safe to say that, even in February, this is already a strong contender for best read of the year. Now I’ll have to catch up on all of Chokshi’s other works!

CONTENT WARNINGS This book contains mentions of death, toxic friendship, toxic relationship, emotional abuse, domestic abuse, sexual violence, harassment, pedophilia, blood.

Rating: 5/5

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride
is out now!


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