"The Last Tale of the Flower Bride" | Reviewed by Bea Jacquin
“The Last Tale of the Flower Bride,” by Roshani Chokshi, opens with a tragedy. The tragedy stems from the main character, only ever referred to as the Bridegroom, falling in love with Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. The story is told in alternating points of view.
We’re introduced to the Bridegroom on the night he meets heiress Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada, who will become his wife. The Bridegroom is an expert in all things fairy-tale, perfect for a woman who had spent her childhood searching for a way into fantasy land. Being married to Indigo ushers the Bridegroom into a world he’s never had access to before, one filled with wealth, privilege and power. A power so strong it forces secrets to be kept for decades.
Chokshi does a wonderful job of imbuing the narrative with a creeping sense of unease as we follow Indigo and the Bridegroom through the early days of their marriage. It’s not long before Indigo grows tired of the riddles and games they built their relationship on and begins vacillating between showing love to the Bridegroom and being vicious in her affections.
The feeling of unease is so subtly woven into their relationship that it’s often dismissed, a stitch in an otherwise happy couple-ship, were it not for Indigo’s periodic reminder—the secrets in her past are never to be questioned, especially those involving her childhood best friend Azure, who disappeared around graduation. This ultimatum slowly works its way through every aspect of their relationship. Anytime the Bridegroom asks what is troubling her she reminds him of the promise he made.
With things reaching their most contentious point, Indigo is summoned to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, where her remaining relative, Hippolyta, the aunt who raised her, isn’t long for this world. Soon after their arrival The Bridegroom meets Hippolyta who shares her concerns about Indigo’s transformation. Hippolyta believes Indigo has hardened because of keeping secrets about Azure's disappearance. The Indigo who moved through the world like a goddess, who interacted with the world as though she wasn’t quite of it, now appears like a cold, cornered animal.
The creeping unease shifts into tense urgency as the Bridegroom breaks his promise to Indigo and begins searching the House of Dreams for answers that may end his marriage as well as his life.
The narrative casts its spell, as we follow the Bridegroom, his love for his wife morphing into trepidation. We sense Azure’s fear as her story unfolds, alongside a young Indigo who has trouble differentiating between reality and fantasy.
“The Last Tale of the Flower Bride” will draw you in from the first lines and keep you turning the pages deep into the night. The book should appeal to fans who enjoyed “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Gone Girl.”