"Patel's mesmerizing debut shines a brilliant light on the vilified queen from [the Indian epic] the Ramayana....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 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 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.
Praise for Kaikeyi:
"Utterly captivating from start to finish. I was immersed in Kaikeyi's world from the moment I opened Vaishnavi Patel's stunning debut." ―Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart
"Patel shines an elegant, incisive lens on an ancient epic and the vilified queen tangled within it. Brave, compassionate and powerful." ―Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne
"Mythic retelling at its best: entrancing, troubling, and complicated. Kaikeyi is marvelous." ―R. F. Kuang, author of The Poppy War
"A lyrical and evocative retelling, full of power and grace, which brings forward a traditionally maligned woman of myth. A spellbinding debut." ―Ava Reid, author of The Wolf and the Woodsman
"Compulsively readable and infinitely compassionate, this is the story I've been yearning for all my life." ―Roshani Chokshi, author of The Gilded Wolves
"The best kind of retelling. Deftly weaving fantasy elements with beloved mythology, this brilliant reinterpretation enriches the Ramayana with counternarratives." ―Maya Deane, author of Wrath Goddess Sing
"A thought-provoking, nuanced new look at one of humanity's most foundational stories." —Shannon Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass
"Kaikeyi is a glorious tapestry of a novel. I adored it." —Lucy Holland, author of Sistersong
"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." ―Booklist (starred review)