Kaikeyi: Book summary and reviews of Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Kaikeyi

A Novel

by Vaishnavi Patel

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel X
Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
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Book Summary

A stunning debut from a powerful new voice, Kaikeyi reimagines the life of the infamous queen from the Indian epic the Ramayana, weaving 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.

"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 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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)

"The novel is compelling and rich, drawing on the source material while furnishing its characters with new complexity and motivations. Fans of Madeline Miller's Circe will fall hard for this story about a woman determined to do what's right for her kingdom and its women, walking the fine line between rebellion and convention." - Booklist (starred review)

"With spellbinding twists and turns, this is a political novel and very much a feminist one." - Kirkus Reviews

"Patel shines an elegant, incisive lens on an ancient epic and the vilified queen tangled within it. Brave, compassionate and powerful, Kaikeyi is a novel that will live in my head and my heart for a long time to come." - Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne

"The best kind of retelling. Deftly weaving fantasy elements with beloved mythology, this brilliant reinterpretation enriches the Ramayana with counternarratives, so that the original epic becomes the gods' version of the story, and Patel's indelible debut goes to deeper places where the gods cannot follow. I can't stop thinking about Kaikeyi." - Maya Deane, author of Wrath Goddess Sing

"A lyrical and evocative retelling, full of power and grace, which brings forward a traditionally maligned woman of myth. Kaikeyi's life is rendered with richness and nuance, yielding a story that feels both novel and classic. A spellbinding debut." - Ava Reid, author The Wolf and the Woodsman

This information about Kaikeyi was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Vaishnavi Patel

Vaishnavi Patel is a law student focusing on constitutional law and civil rights. She likes to write at the intersection of Indian myth, feminism, and anti-colonialism. Her short stories can be found in The Dark and 87 Bedford's Historical Fantasy Anthology along with a forthcoming story in Helios Quarterly. Vaishnavi grew up in and around Chicago, and in her spare time, enjoys activities that are almost stereotypically Midwestern: knitting, ice skating, drinking hot chocolate, and making hotdish.

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