Published by Hachette Australia, Hodder & Stoughton on February 16, 2023
Genres: Adult Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism
Amazon | Publisher | Booktopia
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Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed they would live happily ever after—and in exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past.
But when Indigo learns that her estranged aunt is dying and the couple is forced to return to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom will soon find himself unable to resist. For within the crumbling manor’s extravagant rooms and musty halls, there lurks the shadow of another girl: Azure, Indigo’s dearest childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. As the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets, the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage... or their lives.
Combining the lush, haunting atmosphere of Mexican Gothic with the dreamy enchantment of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a spellbinding and darkly romantic page-turner about love and lies, secrets and betrayal, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive.
With a richly evocative, sumptous atmosphere based around a mysterious and magical estate, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride had me captivated. Indigo is a glittering, enchanting woman who almost seems to reside within myths and legends, and we learn about her through two perspectives set at different points in time.
The book is beautifully written and the mystery is sustained through the two perspectives of the Bridegroom, and a childhood friend.
A scholarly husband swept up in the mystery of his wife
We hear the story from the perspective of the Bridegroom, a scholar who soon becomes enchanted by his new love. They travel all across mysterious and intriguing places, swept up in little fables and fairytales that they tell each other. They soon visit Indigo in her childhood home, as her late mother wants to hear from her. The Bridegroom feels it’s finally time to discover the childhood secrets who will reveal who his wife really is, as she’s kept much of her childhood from him. Despite his wife’s warning not to pry.
A fairytale like childhood friendship
The other perspective we hear from, is Azure, Indigo’s childhood best friend and other half. We’re given clues as to what has happened to Azure, for Indigo has never mentioned her, despite their relative closeness as alluded to by people around the manor. This is where the story really takes off for me – I loved hearing about Azure and Indigo’s allure and their belief that they are actually fae. There’s a childhood innocence and magical quality about their friendship and the games that they play, and how Indigo welcomes Azure in. They believe that they’re twin souls, even though they look similar to one another – it’s evident that where they came from is wildly different and shapes their behaviour. There is a touch of sapphic vibes between them as well.
A mystery of a disappearing friend
While we know that Azure was a big part of Indigo’s childhood, she isn’t currently present. I loved how the little clues were dropped throughout the story. There is a magical, enchanting air about the estate that the couple are residing at, and you can tell that it holds a lot of secrets. While it’s not completely evident whether the magic at the estate was real, implied or something else, I liked the magical realism aspect of it.
The Last Tale of a Flower Bride is a beautifully written, gothic tale featuring a fairytale like friendship and an intriguing muse. There’s a lot of magical realism as it covers an estate filled with dark secrets, and two childhoood friends who are like twin souls. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written read, and found the conclusion of the book to be satisfying.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Trigger warnings: psychological abuse, childhood neglect and bullying, paedophilia (implied)
Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a review copy of the book!
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