The Jasmine Throne was an utterly engrossing novel; I can’t remember the last time I was so absorbed in a book.
It’s the kind of novel that creeps up on you. It starts off with two seemingly straightforward plotlines: there’s Priya, a maidservant who helps a homeless boy by finding him a position in the regent’s mahal, where she works; and Malini, who’s been exiled by her brother for disobeying his orders. So far so good, but there is so much more: more captivating backstory, more nuanced worldbuilding, more intricate character dynamics.
When I started this book, I thought it would be a solid 3.5 stars. I was enjoying it, and I was interested to see where it would go, but I didn’t feel deeply invested in its story or its characters. At some point, though, The Jasmine Throne hits it stride and goes from pretty good to completely unputdownable; at some point while reading this book, I went from ok let’s see what happens next to [dramatically dabbing my eyes because I was getting so emotional that it was making me teary-eyed]. Like I said, The Jasmine Throne creeps up on you: you don’t really realize how invested you are in its story until it hits you like a brick wall.
In retrospect, I think the way Suri chose to slowly develop her world in the beginning ultimately worked in the novel’s favour. One of my favourite things about the worldbuilding in The Jasmine Throne is that it never felt bogged down by obvious exposition or info dumps. You learn about the world of this novel in bits and pieces, from chapter to chapter, so that by its end you realize that you’ve absorbed so much information and detail without necessarily having it explicitly spelled out for you. And the worldbuilding is just excellent. I particularly loved the focus on plants and nature, the ways that they can be both beautiful and monstrous, vitalizing and destructive–all themes that Suri vividly brings to life through some real standout, and absolutely striking scenes.
And the characters! They were beautifully developed. I cried, multiple times, not even because something tragic happened, but just because I was so moved by the earnestness and the vulnerability of these characters. There is so much heart to these characters; they’re all, in their own ways, trying to cope with the hand that they’ve been dealt, to move towards healing when so much is pushing them in the opposite direction.
I just loved this, and I am thrilled that we have two more books to look forward to in this series.
Thank you so much to Orbit for providing me with an e-ARC of this via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!