This is a fairy tale with teeth.
This book brings us back to the world of The Star-Touched Queen, but follows Maya's sister Gauri, warrior princess. A prisoner of war, she gets swept into an otherworldly game by Vikram, adopted heir to an enemy kingdom.
The premise is simple: win the games or forever be trapped in the otherworld. But what I appreciated most were the characters. Amid a backdrop that is luscious, whimsical, and more dangerous than it appears, we have two characters trying to figure out who they are and what they want most in the world.
Gauri must deal with the repercussions of her past choices and how they impacted the people around her. There's nothing soft about her, she's serious, not very trusting, makes bad decisions, and she makes no apologies for who she is. The story does not change her personality, instead what changes is what she feels and thinks about the world.
Vikram is a lovely contrast. He's so joyful and full of faith. He teases Gauri mercilessly, and uses his brains to solve his problems instead of force (which is Gauri's mode of choice).
While The Star Touched Queen* will forever be one of the books of my heart, A Crown of Wishes is a satisfying story. It has has a warm, hopeful, heart, despite the harness of its characters, and the tasks they are put through.
*And yes, Maya makes a cameo!