Title: THE LIBRARY OF FATES
Author: Aditi Khorani
Release Date: 2017
My Rating: ★★★★☆(4/5)
Review on Goodreads
This is a strange little book. I had wildly different expectations going into it; the blurb makes it seem like more of a political thriller (of sorts) but in actuality it is more like an extended folktale. There have been comparisons with The Star-Touched Queen, and I suppose in theme the two are quite similar, but this book is actually rather fast-paced, more of an adventure/journey story.
It begins with Amrita, princess of Shalingar, waiting on the arrival of Sikander, her father’s old friend turned enemy who she is to be married off to in an attempt to secure an alliance. Things fall apart, however, when Sikander makes it clear he has little interest in peace. Amrita finds herself on the run with an oracle named Thala, on a journey to save her nation from Sikander.
It starts off as your typical adventure fantasy novel, but it veers wildly into folklore territory, which I was not expecting! The novel’s ending, which left me undecided as to whether it was happy or tragic, deals with themes of fate, loss, and sacrifice. I was really surprised by the direction this took, but I loved it too. This is not something often seen in YA fantasy lit, and I was pleasantly surprised at the large, overarching themes discussed here.
Central to the story is something else not frequently seen in YA, which is the friendship and partnership between Amrita and Thala. Though the two girls come together almost by coincidence, they end up relying heavily on each other. Romance features in this book, but only on the periphery; it is tangential to the main plot.
My one complaint is the characterization. Perhaps this is because the book is written as a folktale, but I thought that several of the characters were blank slates. I struggled to connect with Amrita; I just couldn’t get a read on her. With Thala it was a little easier, but I still found the pair somewhat forgettable. Even their bond, which I appreciated, felt superficial.
Other than that I really enjoyed this tale. Standalone fantasy novels are few and far between, so this felt like a quick little treat. I also have to mention the writing, which was lovely; the author does a superb job utilizing sensory writing. Her descriptions of various settings were lush and vivid, bringing this folktale to life.