Published by William Morrow (2.14.2023)
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook, 304 pages
Length: 9 hours, 17 minutes
Narrator: Steve West, Sura Siu
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.
This one took me by surprise! It’s enchanting, similar to the uncanny way of The Ten Thousand Doors of January and Strange the Dreamer (although I didn’t love it quite as much as those two). I think the vibe of this book was my favorite part! It’s very mysterious, and magical in that strange way that magical realism has, but without being nonsensical like most magical realism. It’s hard to talk about this without giving anything away – I went into this book blind, knowing next to nothing about it, and I think that enhanced my reading experience and added to the mystery. If you haven’t read it yet, I definitely don’t suggest reading reviews.
First I want to say, the prose is beautiful and captivating! There’s something about the way it’s written that just speaks to you. It’s haunting and magical, and it draws you in. I listened to the audiobook, which I think made me enjoy this a lot more. It’s narrated by Steve West – one of my favorite narrators – and Sura Siu, who I was unfamiliar with before this book, but loved. The two of them really brought this story to life!
I enjoyed the intermittent cautionary fairy tales that were woven throughout this story! The backstory of Indigo and Azure was very interesting, and I was intrigued from the moment that Azure was introduced. I was eager to hear more and to find out what happened to Azure. Above I mentioned magical realism – the girls’ childhood and the Otherworld blurred the lines between fantasy and reality in a way that left me wondering if it was actually real, or if it was just a conjuration of their imaginations to escape from the reality they’d been given. (Although the magical, almost sentient house lent more to the possibility of the magic being real.) I was captivated by the way things unfolded, and I will also say that the ending was a great twist! View Spoiler »I was starting to suspect that Indigo was Azure, but not in the way it was revealed. When it was said that ‘two went into the Otherworld and only one returned,’ I really thought that Indigo took Azure’s soul, or they merged together, because they kept saying that the two girls shared a soul. The fact that Azure killed Indigo and took her name was awesome! « Hide Spoiler
So, the main reason this doesn’t get 5 stars from me is that I felt pretty disconnected from the characters. Despite the poignant prose, the marriage between the bridegroom (I just realized we never got a name for him, which is unusual and super interesting!) and Indigo lacked any emotion for me to root for them in the end. It was a very odd relationship, actually, and bordered on toxic. She kept dark secrets, and he didn’t respect her boundaries. They married without really knowing if they loved each other, and barely even knew each other. View Spoiler »Also, are we not going to talk about the fact that she had a KNIFE and HE THOUGHT SHE WAS GOING TO KILL HIM?!?! That was straight up glossed over when he found the real Indigo’s body. He was afraid for his life, which is why he drugged her, but then they just…forgot about it?? Alrighty then… « Hide Spoiler
Writing style: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 4/5