Go ahead, judge this book by its cover. I mean, with a cover as beautiful as The Library of Fates, it’s hard not to. Khorana’s second novel is filled with folklore and has truly incredible world building, however fell short due to predictability.
Most of all, The Library of Fates was smart. Presenting themes such as drug addiction and the intersection of feminism and colonialism in a way that made me feel like I was learning without being lectured to. Additionally, Khorana uses historical context to better the reader’s idea of the fictional country the novel was set in. This context was fantastic at times, but occasionally I felt like I was missing a bigger picture since I do not have extensive knowledge of the Silk Road.
The Library of Fates follows Amrita, princess of Shalingar, a fictional country that is similar not only in name to Shangri-La. Amrita lives a privileged yet extremely sheltered life in the royal palace- so sheltered that her own people do not even know her face. However, Amrita would do anything for her people, so when Sikander, a Macedonian conqueror, comes to Shalingar, Amrita agrees to marry him so he does not colonize her country. Before she can do this, Sikander attacks the palace, killing Amrita’s father and forcing her to flee in an attempt to warn her people. Accompanying her is Thala- a drug-dependent, semi-reliable oracle. Their friendship was one of my favorite parts of the book. Amrita and Thala are both well thought out, complete characters, bonded by circumstance, but with a realistic and compelling arc. If there is one thing I want more of in Young Adult, it is female friendship.
The only issue I had with The Library of Fates was believability. Amrita’s romances were both so contrived and obvious, they did not feel like a natural progression. Not to mention how the myths Amrita recalls all magically come into play later in the novel. While I understand the foreshadowing, I wish it was less obvious.
If you’re a fan of Roshani Chokshi’s The Star Touched Queen, or Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer, you will adore Khorana’s second novel. While I never had to wonder what would happen next, the immersive world building and complex themes certainly make up for it.