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Kaikeyi - Vaishnavi Patel (Used)

Kaikeyi - Vaishnavi Patel (Used)

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Victoria recommends! “I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.

Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her.

But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.

A stunning debut from a powerful new voice, Kaikeyi is a tale of fate, family, courage, and heartbreak—of an extraordinary woman determined to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come. 

This is a used copy in like new condition, but with an embossing on the first page.

By Vaishnavi Patel. Hardcover. 478 pages. Book of month edition. Published by Redhook, 2022.

Victoria's thoughts"Kaikeyi" is a first-person retelling of a famous mythology from a female character's point of view. Though I'm not familiar with the original tale, I'm certainly interested now! I typically struggle with first-person narration in adult fiction, and though the pace of this book in the first 80 pages or so was rough for me -- it felt like a lot of info-dumping via narrative -- I came away a fan of Patel and this book.

My favorite parts of this novel are how richly detailed the scenery is. At every point in the book, I could picture (and often smell!) the beautiful landscapes Patel creates. It truly felt like escaping into another world and I think that's a talent all on its own.

Retelling mythology -- particularly such a maligned character -- is no easy task. I appreciate that Patel didn't go the route of making her main character a completely innocent bystander, but instead a complicated woman who did her best with what she had.