Book Review: The Last Tale of the Flower Bride

How do I even begin to talk about The Last Tale of the Flower Bride? It’s one of those stories that felt deeply personal, both in the actual telling of the tale and in the experience of reading it. It’s whimsical and odd; beautiful and unsettling; relatable and raw. It comforts, challenges, charms and, dare I say, consumes the reader lured in by the promise of the prologue.

I’ve read this novel twice now: first, devouring the author’s eloquent, arresting prose on the page; second, listening to the same stunning sentences delivered by our two audiobook narrators. The first time felt like a race - to discover the truth behind the magic, to arrive at the culmination of these complex relationships, to fit the pieces of the puzzle that is the past and the present together. The second time felt like an invitation - to sit with the sentiments so truthfully declared, to understand more deeply the way the fantastical can give us a lens with which to view the world, to reflect on the way life, in all its glory and guts, is filled with the darkness and the light. Both experiences left me reeling from the visceral reactions I had to having things I’ve felt or thought or experiences put into words; both experiences also left me soothed, simply for the way I felt seen and understood.

Can you tell that this story gave me the most contradiction-filled reading experience I’ve had in a long time (and one that I doubt I’ll stop thinking about anytime soon)? The contrasts are stark - between the whimsy and horror of fairytales, between what comes to light and remains in the shadows (at least, until such time as the light reveals all), between the fanciful and the factual, between Indigo and Azure even. The truths bared - about growing up, about marriage, about secrets and pain and identity, about magic - are all at once exquisite and horrifying. The way Chokshi was able to portray these things side by side through the tale of Indigo and her Bridegroom was enough to stop me in my tracks, so unlike anything I’ve read before and entirely unexpected in the way it hit the bulls-eye again, and again, and again.

This novel isn’t going to necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea. It certainly still feels impossible to fully capture the way I personally connect to it with my own words. But, for me, Chokshi’s adult debut is a masterpiece. The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a fairytale, but it is also a true story. If this is the type of adult work we can anticipate from her going forward, I know I, for one, will be eager to pick up whatever comes next.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi
Pub Info: February 14, 2023 by Harper Collins
Source: e-ARC via Netgalley | ALC via Libro.FM