"Patel's mesmerizing debut shines a brilliant light on the vilified queen from the Ramayana....Readers familiar with the source text will be wowed by Patel's reimagining, while those new to the story will be won over by its powerful, multilayered heroine and epic scope. This easily earns its place on shelves alongside Madeline Miller's Circe." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"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 Bharath 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.
"Mythic retelling at its best: entrancing, troubling, and complicated. Kaikeyi is marvelous." --R. F. Kuang, award-winning author of the Poppy War trilogy
"A powerful examination of a woman maligned by myth and men....Compulsively readable and infinitely compassionate, this is the story I've been yearning for all my life." --Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of the Gilded Wolves series