“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 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.
This is definitely one of those books where I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into before I started listening to it. Going into the book I knew almost nothing of Indian mythology and culture and didn’t even know that this book was meant to be a reimagining of the epic Ramayana. Once I did figure that all out though I stopped listening to do a bit of research on Indian myths and legends and to get an idea of what Ramayana is about, only to realize after the fact that the author does an amazing job making this book stand perfectly well on its own. Kaikeyi was a fun and fascinating read full of great characters and a great story that I didn’t want to see it end.
I honestly don’t think I have the words to properly describe how good I found Kaikeyi to be or have the time to touch on everything in this book that I enjoyed. So I will just say that Kaikeyi was a fantastic story full of great characters, an enthralling story, as well as an interesting magic that I really loved. Not only did I enjoy every moment I spent listening to this book, it also sent me down a rabbit hole of Indian mythology and culture. I probably spent way too much time going through Wikipedia articles reading about Ramayana as well as the mythologies that help make up Kaikeyi.
I can’t review this book without touching on Soneela Nankani and the great job she did with her narration. She did an excellent job helping bring the characters and the story to life in such a way that made it really easy for me to immerse myself in the story. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for other books she’s narrated that I might enjoy.
I would highly recommend this book to everyone looking for something to read. I don’t know anyone who would regret spending the time or money on it.
I received a free copy of Kaikeyi in return for an honest review.