Book Title: Kaikeyi
Author: Vaishnavi Patel
Release Date: 04/26/22
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley.
What a time to be writing a review for a book like this. We just found out a couple of days ago the extent of the attempt to suppress women’s rights here in the US. None of us are surprised. We knew it was coming, but the Supreme Court is looking to do away with a woman’s right to choose and wants to exert control over women’s bodies to an extent that hasn’t been seen in decades. Here I am writing a book review for a feminist book that reflects on the difficulty of overcoming the deeply held misogyny that exists around the world. Like I said, what a day.
“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. – Goodreads
I am not familiar with the original story from the Ramayana, the good thing is this book is written in a way that makes the story completely accessible to outsiders. I’m sure that being familiar with the story would have probably deepened my understanding and enjoyment but I liked it all the same.
Kaikeyi is an interesting character. She is not completely multi-faceted. She has faults a plenty, but ultimately she is working toward a goal. The betterment of women in her culture, as well as the prevention of what she see’s as a potential evil gaining control in her kingdom. It makes for a fascinating story. I could not put it down. I can fully recommend this book. If you are looking for something from POC author and set in a non-European culture, give this a try.