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Book review: Indian mythology inspires feminist fantasy novel 'Library of Fates'

Posted July 17

"LIBRARY OF FATES," by Aditi Khorana, Penguin Random House, $18.99, 314 pages (f) (ages 13 and up)

Cloistered in the palace, Princess Amrita knows little of the world. Even she, however, has heard the rumors of Emperor Sikander's atrocities. When the emperor comes to Amrita's kingdom, she offers to form a peaceful alliance through their marriage. The negotiations fail; Amrita's loved ones are murdered, and Amrita becomes a fugitive.

Amrita's people tell tales of the Library of All Things, where the past can be changed in hopes of a better future. If the library really exists, and if Amrita and the oracle Thala can elude Sikander's soldiers and reach the library, they may be able to save their families and kingdoms. Such a feat, though, will require Amrita to sacrifice her very self and become more than she thought possible.

"The Library of Fates" draws from Indian mythology to create a fairy tale of sacrifice and growth. The plot defies convention in delightfully unexpected ways, and the author skillfully crafts a humble yet strong heroine. The story's pacing is just right, sweeping through Amrita's quest to a satisfying conclusion. "Library of Fates" avoids the common pitfalls of excessive world-building and an overabundance of storylines and so can wrap the story neatly in a standalone novel — no lengthy series needed. Fantasy authors, take note!

Aditi Khorana, the author of "Library of Fates," describes the novel's genre on her website as feminist fantasy. While this description may be off-putting to some, the book explores themes of sacrifice and fate, courage and love with no preachiness and little political edge. Hopefully "Library of Fates" will inspire other feminist fantasy novels as well.

"Library of Fates" contains a violent scene depicting the bloody deaths of two prominent characters. A romantic scene includes passionate kissing and some sexual touching. No profanity is used. The book is probably best for teen and adult readers.

Rachel Chipman has a bachelor's degree in family life and human development. Her current goals are to read more, write more and learn to type while holding her infant daughter. Her email address is racheldchipman@gmail.com.

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