by Aditi Khorana
Published on July 18, 2017 by Razorbill
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn
No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.
The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.
Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?
I should have paid closer attention to the comparison titles for this novel. I wasn’t big on The Star-Touched Queen (though loved the sequel, A Crown of Wishes) and unfortunately The Library of Fates fell in the same category of the former.
This book reads like an extended story you would see in a book of folklore and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it left me underwhelmed for a novel. For starters, I cared little for the characters. Amrita is discovering where she belongs in the world and went on quite the whirlwind adventure, but the entire time I never felt anything toward her. No fear for her life in danger or hope for her potential future with one of the love interests (I’ll get to that in a sec), or even curiosity at how her friendship would change with the oracle Thala.
Amrita became the blank slate while the characters around her had emotions, responses that didn’t require counsel, desires that drove them forward. But I never felt the princess had these things. They were stated — what she wanted and what she needed to do to achieve it — but I couldn’t feel it in her character.
Then there’s the romances. I hesitate to even call it a love triangle especially since the first one is all “I love you’s” and planned elopements which are all but forgotten when the second guy comes around. Both read a bit insta-lovey (more the second than first but the first didn’t have the development with the reader to read true for me).
I’ll say that I liked how the protagonists were girls building a friendship while working toward related but separate ends. The romance, though I wasn’t a fan, didn’t impact a lot of the scenes where it was just Amrita and Thala interacting. Their friendship taking up page space was good even though I didn’t find much in their individual characters.
Where I see the comparison to TSTQ come in is with the world-building and writing. Though not as intricately beautiful as I found TSTQ, the writing here is detailed and brings forth a world both fictional and real. I traveled across lands, encountering a world of diverse people filled with the influence of Indian folklore promised in the synopsis.
This lasted for the beginning portion of the book until the writing became awkward in several sections. It’s an easy read from a technical perspective, and I was able to push through to the end where the story improved a bit but was too rushed to make an impact on the rest of the book.
Honestly, this book was such a quick read but I finished it feeling… nothing. It wasn’t a particularly engaging story and while the writing was alright, it didn’t quite reach the same level as its comparison titles for me. Which is a shame. I’ve really loved how more and more YA fantasies are coming out based on non-European mythology and folklore but I haven’t been enjoying most of them. Fingers crossed for more in the future but this one just wasn’t working for me.