I love it when I discover an author I hadn’t heard of before, and love it even more so when the book of theirs I read is one I devour in two days. The author I’m referring to is Roshani Chokshi, and the book is titled The Last Tale of the Flower Bride.
So, what did I like about it? First of all, the atmosphere it lures then settles the reader in. I love pretty much anything gothic, eerie and unsettling – think Pan’s Labyrinth mixed with Crimson Peak – and this dark yet romantic tale, weaving love, lies, deception and secrets hit that sweet spot of mine dead centre. There’s a beauty and simplicity to Chokshi’s writing that means the story just flows almost off the page while simultaneously painting each scene that plays out like a vibrant piece of art.
Like most, if not all, people, I grew up being told fairy tales and imaginings by my parents and other older individuals in my life. By blending gothic edginess with more traditional, charming and magic-like story-telling; a combination that doesn’t always work but here REALLY does, The Last Tale is a book I for one think will and should appeal to a wide audience; not just the scores of young adults who championed her earlier works on Twitter, but also more mature readers who this read is more aimed at.
Far too often I’ve read stories that have predictable, one-dimensional characters, but here, they’re complex, mysterious and, as someone who considers herself very much the same, flawed – there’s a real human air and edge to both Indigo and The Bridegroom in particular – and the fact The Bridegroom doesn’t have a name and instead remains just a voice somewhat leading the story, adds even more intrigue. The female characters are the strongest written, by some considerable margin – something which I for one appreciate. It was and is so great to see the likes of Indigo written with clarity and confidence, while at the same time, presenting the women as so multi-faceted.
Whereas many stories are told from one perspective or just in one fluid timeline, The Last Tale breaks away from the norm, choosing instead to tell its story from two points of view as well as alternating timelines; one that follows The Bridegroom and another that takes us on the journey by Azure, a good friend of Indigo’s who disappeared. By not keeping the story entirely linear, I personally found myself unsure as to where I’d be led next as I turned the page, and even when little clues were teased about what was to come, it managed to hold back enough to keep me guessing.
I haven’t read anywhere near as many books as I usually have by this point here in 2023, but this is one of the best. The Last Tale might well be Roshani’s first adult novel, but if it’s anything to go by, she’s found a new corner of the market to take over.