Synopsis: Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.
Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.
But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.
Publication date: 08 June 2021 (US) and 10th June (UK) (Orbit Books)
Genres: Adult Fantasy
Rep: Indian, South Asian, Lesbian
Trigger Warnings: Explicit violence including immolation and self-immolation, Colourism, xenophobia, Gender-based violence/violence against women (this does not include sexual assault), Homophobia and internalised homophobia, Suicidal ideation, Self-mutilation, Abusive family dynamics, Child murder, Body horror (plant-based, cosmic), Forced drug use and depictions of addiction/withdrawal
The Jasmine Throne was one of my most anticipated books of the year and Tasha Suri is one of my favourite authors. So it was no doubt I was going to love this book but I loved it so much more than I expected!! Here are 5 reasons why you MUST read this book too:
A story that’ll keep you hooked
The Jasmine Throne follows the story of Malini and Priya. Malini is the princess of Parijat who was exiled by her brother for refusing to die by a purification ceremony. Priya is a maidservant who survived a fire which destroyed her temple family. Both of their paths cross in the most intriguing way. Malini and Priya are both vying for a chance to embrace their true power in some way and are cunning in their ways. I loved reading about their conflicts within themselves and with each other. Their trust and loyalty with each other and towards themselves was really well explored. Malini was a fave by a little more because her character was manipulative and secretive and you’re left wondering more about her.
Morally grey lesbians conflicted whether to fight or kiss each other
If you like the bodyguard romance trope, I raise you the cunning princess and her maidservant who is actually really powerful trope. Priya and Malini as I mentioned are both vengeful and manipulative in ways and especially with each other. There is an undeniable pull but also trust doesn’t come easy for them both. Their dynamic and chemistry doesn’t always take centre stage but the development is good and you get invested. A lot of the book is them dancing around each other while telling themselves they’re just using each other (lol). I truly adored this dynamic of fierce romance mixed with soft moments.
Atmospheric writing which will draw you in
Tasha Suri is known for her beautiful and lush writing. One of the reasons I loved the Books of Ambha duology was this and The Jasmine Throne is even better. The writing is gorgeous and really complements the tone and pace of the book well. It keeps you intrigued and draws you in. The world building was stunning and the build up and tension was done absolutely well. The various kingdoms and the descriptions were so good and it was atmospheric.
I also really loved the Indian influences and references right from the food to the saris and outfits to the weapons. I love reading books with these small things which I can relate to and understand fully and I love how beautifully Tasha incorporates all this into the story.
Intriguing politics and family drama
The politics between the kingdoms was really interesting to read. Since this is just part one, there was setting up in this book and I really liked it and can’t wait to read the direction the story moves towards. Both the protagonists are wronged by their brother in some way and we get to see two different perspectives in their stories and journeys. I especially loved Bhumika’s character and I truly can’t wait to read more of her. The themes of family, friendship and sisterhood is complex in this book and made for a really good read.
We also get multiple POVs in this book and I love how well Tasha does it because it does not feel too much at any point but actually maintains balanced narratives. The multiple narratives make the complex dynamics of the characters even more interesting to read.
Themes of imperialism and misogyny
This book discussed imperialism and oppression, religious extremities and the way they’re used to justify wrongdoings and misogyny. Women are always thought of less than or easily disposable and this book focuses not just on this but the anger of these women. Whether its Malini, Priya or Bhumika, we see them fight everyday for things small and big. They’re shown as less than or monstrous but what makes them that? The act of living on their own terms and not bowing to the men or is it that they dare to question. All this is explored really well in the book.
Overall, The Jasmine Throne is a stunning start to what I know will be a stunning series. If you like morally grey lesbians, expansive world building, gorgeous writing and intriguing politics, then this feminist fantasy is a MUST READ.
Thank you to Caffeine Tours and Orbit Books UK for making me part of the tour and providing me with a physical copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tasha Suri was born in Harrow, north-west London. The daughter of Punjabi parents, she spent many childhood holidays exploring India with her family, and still fondly remembers the time she was chased around the Taj Mahal by an irate tour guide. She studied English and creative writing at Warwick University, and now lives in London where she works as a librarian. To no one’s surprise, she owns a cat. A love of period Bollywood films, history and mythology led her to begin writing South Asian influenced fantasy. Tasha Suri has won the British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer Award and Starburst Brave New Words Award.