The Last Tale Of The Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi (book review).
‘The Last Tale Of The Flower Bride’ is a standalone novel and is Roshani Chokshi’s debut adult novel.
Indigo Maxwell-Castenada marries her bridegroom and showers him in gifts. She only asks one thing of him, that he never look into her past. He is happy to make this promise and they live happily using Indigo’s vast fortune to go where they want and do what they want. Until Indigo’s aunt is taken gravely ill and Indigo and her husband must journey back to the house of her childhood. This is no ordinary house, it has a life of its own along with ghosts from Indigo’s past. The bridegroom is gradually shown these ghosts and, eventually, he has to make a decision about how he wants his life going forward to look like. Safe in the pleasures of Indigo’s current life or betraying all that to learn the truth.
Throughout this book, we follow two timelines. One, a very curious marriage and the other a childhood friendship both of which seem doomed from the very start. At the centre of both these tales is Indigo, a person who appears to create obsession wherever she goes. She seems to be able to do and say the most fabulous magical and dark things and have people just follow along with and believe her.
As soon as you start to read this book, it has such strong gothic and haunting feels. It’s all so beautifully written but you know that underneath all this carefully crafted writing is a broken story that we will eventually get to see. It has that unsettling feeling of old traditional fairy tales where you just know things are going to happen to the characters and you have no control. You’re just shouting at them to stay on the path, not go down into the basement and don’t trust the beautiful young woman!
As with many gothic novels, this book is the very definition of a slow burn. You just need to keep reading it to take in more of the beautiful prose and to follow the characters. It’s all very slow and drawn out but you must keep reading to find out what the dark secrets are going to be.
I got a really heavy ‘Rebecca’ vibe along with the fairy tales from this book. We have that whirlwind romance at the beginning of the book, then the lack of name for the bridegroom. The creepy house is filled with secrets and lies and no one telling the bridegroom clear facts. It’s just a wonderful gender swapped version of Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ with added fairy tales which I just loved.
Roshani Chokshi somehow manages to write in such a way that this book is both eerie and enchanting at the same time. You’re reading such beautiful writing and intricate descriptions of food and clothes but, at the same time, you know that there is something just out of sight that is truly horrifying. It’s like seeing a gorgeous red apple but knowing that if you turn it around it is full of maggots. It feels very much like old school fairy tales, the older and darker versions of the ones we now know. I very much enjoyed that an old Welsh tale was used in the book and was the basis of the title of the book. Welsh fairy tales aren’t often used or credited so I appreciated this.
(pub: Hodder & Stoughton, 2023. 292 page hardback. Price: $27.99 (US), £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-06320-650-2)
check out website: www.hodder.co.uk/genre/the-americas/north-america/