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Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
Fantasy

Kaikeyi

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Vaishnavi Patel, on your first book!

by Vaishnavi Patel

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Quick take

Why should boys have all the fun? In this epic tale that pulls heartstrings, Kaikeyi fights for her place in history.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist

    Feminist

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BasedOnAClassic

    Based on a classic

Synopsis

“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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Kaikeyi.
Kaikeyi

CHAPTER ONE

I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.

In Bharat, where the gods regularly responded to prayers and meddled in mortal affairs, the circumstances of my birth held great promise. This did not matter to my father, who cared only that my brother Yudhajit followed me into the world minutes later under the same lucky stars. Regardless of birth position, Yudhajit, being a boy, was the heir to the Kekaya kingdom. I was but a dowry of fifty fine horses waiting to happen. For each of my mother’s subsequent pregnancies, my father made sacrifices to the gods, requesting sons. In return, he was blessed with six more healthy boys, portents of future prosperity.

The people of Bharat have often blamed my father for my sins, as if a woman cannot own her actions. He was not a perfect man, that I freely admit, but for all his faults he loved each of his sons fiercely, playing with them in his throne room, bringing them the finest tutors in all the kingdom, and gifting them ponies so they would grow into brilliant cavalrymen.

If he bears any fault for my actions, it is through his inaction. I remember few occasions when we exchanged words, and fewer still when he sought to speak with me—save one.

My brothers and I were playing hide and catch in the sweeping field behind the palace and it was my turn to find them. I kept my eyes shut as their laughter faded into wind, opening them only after counting to twenty. I immediately saw a glimmer of movement by the stables.

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Why I love it

The best retellings are ones that surprise and enthrall, yet feel so resoundingly true and timeless that you can picture yourself hearing them for the first time huddled by firelight. Gods, prophecies, magic, monsters—these essential elements of fantasy are given striking new life in Kaikeyi, a reimagining of the vilified queen from Hindu mythology.

Kaikeyi lives in a world shaped by the whims and ambitions of men, her value determined by the arrangement of stars and potential marriage alliances. Not content to be a passive daughter or a silenced wife, Kaikeyi cultivates a secret magic, one which allows her to manipulate the capricious threads of power around her. Through guile and nerve, she elevates herself to the status of warrior, diplomat, and, eventually, the king’s most valued advisor and confidant. But in defying destiny, Kaikeyi puts herself in the path of angry men and vengeful gods—and the choices she makes will determine not only her legacy but the future of all women in her kingdom.

Like Kaikeyi’s enchanted threads, Vaishnavi Patel weaves an intricate tale of motherhood, fate, courage, sacrifice, and the nuances of female power. Turn off your phone and huddle around your proverbial fire: this story is compulsively readable, infinitely complex, and—in every sense—magical.

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Member ratings (14,025)

  • Taylor A.

    Monument, CO

    I experienced the full range of emotions: the agony of difficult choices, the powerlessness felt as a woman, the contentment when all is well, the complete sorrow when all falls apart ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Alyssa S.

    Davis, CA

    Such a wonderful book. Gods and mortals. Mothers and children. What prices do we pay to do what we think is right? This story is beautifully written and needs to be read by everyone. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Isaac W.

    West Hollywood, CA

    Absolutely stunning! The depths this book plumbs to tell the story from the perceived villains perspective are remarkable. Patel has crafted a compulsively readable story that matches the myth!❤️❤️❤️

  • Dorocheny J.

    Jacksonville , FL

    “Before this story was Rama’s, it was mine” This book was a masterpiece. I don’t usually like retellings of stories, but Patel did her thing with this book. she’s the feminist I wish I was. I loved it

  • Kelly M.

    Saint Augustine, FL

    Another one of those “This is why I love BOTM” books. I really loved it and didn’t want it to end. I didn’t know anything about Kaikeyi beforehand and found the entire tale fascinating. A great read.

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