The Door You Might Not Open, and You Did

Author: Roshani Chokshi

He has spent his life living in and studying dreams. Dreams of a missing brother, sucked into a wardrobe never to return. It was then, as a child, that he knew fairy tales and myths were real. And ever since then, he has followed them, studied them.

Enter his future wife, Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada, a woman whose lush beauty and wealth are the stuff of legends. She too loves a good fairy tale, the more violent, the more unsettling, the more gothically beautiful, the better. The pair, with their secrets and mirrored pasts, are perfect for one another. The marriage is set, with one stipulation. Like a reverse Bluebeard, the bridegroom must never investigate his wife’s shadowed past. He thinks he can keep this promise, but as we know, all fairy tales end in gruesome revelation, and curiosity often outpaces love.

When Indigo must return to her childhood home, aptly named The House of Dreams, to attend her dying aunt, her faithful husband starts to unravel another mystery. Indigo believed in fairyland even as a child, and her nearby friend, a poor, abused little girl named Azure, joined her in these incantations and dedications to a world beyond their world. And then Azure disappeared. Whatever the house is hiding, whatever Indigo is hiding, it is buried in her childhood, in this long-ago friendship and the bitter magic and lies that bound it.

This is my first encounter with the morbid, decadent lyricism of Roshani Chokshi, but it will not be my last. The story aside, the writing here is just too beautiful to describe. It is sensual, often-times surreal, overlaid with sometimes impenetrable meaning and endless longing. The longing of the lonely, the virginal, on a hot, dull summer’s evening when time winds on and means nothing and exciting events are far away, almost in a make-believe land. It’s utterly addictive. The kind of language that evokes images and emotions and … happy, enamored sigh … is just so beautiful.

Image by MariaD42530 from Pixabay

But then, within this modern fairy tale language with its beautiful, visceral, deadly imagery, there is a real powerhouse of a weird story. We have the present day focused on this man, half in love, half afraid of his feral wife, trying to shift secrets from old houses and blinded, dying aunts. Then we have the past, the long days of Indigo and Azure; Azure, half in love with her nearly fey friend, trying to escape a bad home life, tangling in the magic far too much to see the abuse, the degeneration. It is a story with so many trigger points and an earthy, sad darkness. It is a story of little girls, of wanting to belong, of broken families and abusive friendships, of cruelty and insanity and sacrifice and bloodshed and wanting and guilt. It is, in the end, a fairy story with a twist ending and – of course – a body. Because what kind of fairy tale doesn’t have a monster and a maiden, a death and a revelation, a hapless prince and a dangerous maiden all towered over by a dark house and secrets, secrets, secrets?

Anyway . . . before I write another three paragraphs just shining over the lyricism and the delightful weirdness and the labyrinthine sentences that sometimes talked about such deep things and sometimes didn’t make sense but evoked emotion and otherworldly realms just beyond our fingertips, I’ll end by saying that this is a new favorite. The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is by far one of the best books I have read this year, and an introduction to a new author with whom I am deeply obsessed. Highly recommended.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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