A Lethal Dose of Indigo || The Last Tale of the Flower Bride Review

Initial Thoughts

Those final chapters were WILD. Roshani Chokshi has always managed to ensnare me easily with her beautiful writing, and she went all out in this book. The Bridegroom’s narrative interwove with Azure’s in such a way that I loved the back and forth, and the homage to fairy tales and stories were absolute chef’s kiss. The blurb on the jacket summary described this as Mexican Gothic meets Addie LaRue, but honestly, if “Bluebeard,” “Donkeyskin,” and Pan’s Labyrinth all squished into a locked room, it would be The Last Tale of the Flower Bride. Just saying!


by Roshani Chokshi
Hodder & Stoughton, January 2023
Adult fantasy, Gothic, romance
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed they would live happily ever after–and in exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past.

But when Indigo learns that her estranged aunt is dying and the couple is forced to return to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom will soon find himself unable to resist. For within the crumbling manor’s extravagant rooms and musty halls, there lurks the shadow of another girl: Azure, Indigo’s dearest childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. As the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets, the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage . . . or their lives.

I am an absolute sucker for fairy tale inspired stories, and the fact that Roshani Chokshi paid homage to some of my favorite–and most gruesomely disturbing–fairy tales was even better. There’s one sticking point that’s made me pick up Chokshi’s writing time and time again, and it’s that she manages to create some really great metaphors and descriptive phrases. It was like this for me the first time I’d read The Star-Touched Queen so many years back, and then again when I devoured the entire The Gilded Wolves trilogy all of last year. While heist fantasy is my usual go-to fare, I will say I much preferred going back to the writing that was so reminiscent of STQ (and I haven’t read The Crown of Wishes yet, but I swear I will eventually get to it!).

This is why fairy tales are dangerous: their words sneak into your veins and travel into the chambers of your heart, where they whisper of your exceptionalism. They say: Ah, but remember the boy who walked into the woods and came out a king? Oh, but what of the girl who was kicked and slept in ashes? Remember the man who was only kind and so life bent around the shape of his smile? But we are not exceptional.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride was everything I could have wanted in what is essentially a “Bluebeard” or “The Robber Bridegroom” retelling. I mean, if the names Indigo and Azure were not tongue-in-cheek enough, there are aspects and elements of the original tales that make it to this book. For those who are not familiar with either fairy tale (or the fairy tales alluded to in the story), the enjoyment is in the suspense and the mystery–so I won’t bother summarizing them (if I did, I’d probably end up overanalyzing the story, because I wouldn’t be able to help myself). That doesn’t mean the suspense was completely taken away because I’m a fairy tale nut; my enjoyment of the story came from the fact that I thought I KNEW what was going to happen. And still wound up being surprised anyway.

It’s especially refreshing to see Chokshi fracture the fairy tale by switching the roles. Instead of a bride, we get the Bridegroom, a fairy tale scholar who is charmed into a marriage with the alluring Indigo Maxwell Castaneda. We never get the name of the Bridegroom (which I kind of liked, because it highlights the idea that in the source text, we never get any of the brides’ names in Bluebeard or The Robber Bridegroom), yet Indigo’s name is ridiculously fancy and practically unforgettable. The two hit it off right away, and despite all the mystery shrouding Indigo, the Bridegroom finds himself the happiest he’s been. That is, until Indigo is summoned back to her familial House of Dreams because of her dying aunt. Things become tricky here, because it turns out that Indigo’s mysteriousness turns more and more sinister the longer the Bridegroom stays within the walls of the House of Dreams.

And while the Bridegroom contemplates the true nature of his wife–and the precariousness of his marriage, the narrative also follows Azure, a girl who was practically Indigo’s sister, right before the time she disappears from Indigo’s life forever. The two narratives eventually meet by the end, but it was interesting to see the mystery unravel as the parallel storylines progress.

You said: “If you pry, you’ll destroy our marriage.” But oh, my love, you lied.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride – Roshani Chokshi

I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end, even when the Bridegroom started taking a back seat to Azure’s story. At times I found myself being more interested in one perspective over another, but then found myself switching my opinion depending on how interesting the story went. For a book only around 300 pages long, Chokshi crammed a chock-full of fairy tale allusions that had me squeeing with delight. Honestly, I ended up playing a “Do you recognize the fairy tale?” game to myself as I read the book (and boy oh boy, more squeeing ensued when I found most of my guesses were spot on).

I suppose the only thing I wasn’t feeling was the actual marriage chemistry itself. With the way the story was going, I was mostly expecting everything to blow up in both the Bridegroom and Indigo’s faces. And boy, does that drama culminate in the final chapters of the story.

5 out of 5 cookies! Absolutely loved it. I might actually have to reread the book just so I can go back to all the little clues Chokshi put in to help us unravel the mystery sooner. But my gosh, definitely my favorite of her works so far.

(Also, the FairyLoot edition is absolutely LOVELY, which is why I’m using it as the cover–also because this was the edition I ultimately read from).

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