THE JASMINE THRONE by Tasha Suri (BOOK REVIEW)
For a while now, there has been one book that has cropped up in book hauls, monthly reading wrap-ups, best books of the year lists and every bookish corner of the internet that I frequent. The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri has been touted by every reviewer I put stock in as the book you need to have read if you’re a queer fantasy fan and this month it finally floated to the top of my TBR pile.
Malini is the sister of a tyrannical, dangerously fanatical emperor who believes that women exist to be burned in honour of the gods. When she refuses to burn, he incarcerates her in a crumbling temple with a tragic past. Locked away, Malini dreams of vengeance and freedom.
Priya is a maidservant with a kind heart and a heavy secret. She spends the little free time she has helping those afflicted by the rot: a plague that many say is actually a divine curse. Those who suffer from the rot sprout vines, leaves, and bark from their own skin, slowly succumbing to the growth that eats them from the inside out.
When these two women are thrown together, wheels are set in motion that will have much, much bigger consequences than either of them could ever have predicted.
This book is a delicately crafted tale of political and religious intrigue where strong, unapologetic women find their allies and their courage in a world driven by patriarchy and outdated superstitions. The cogs of this story slot together so carefully and organically that it’s impossible not to be swept up in the story, wholly invested in our heroines’ journey to make their world a better place.
While the writing is evocative: deftly laying out what otherwise might be a complicated political and religious landscape, it’s the characters that suck you into this story and keep you turning the page when you should absolutely be doing other things. Priya is a main character you can root for, while Malini has a touch of the unpredictable about her that keeps you on your toes. Combine this with the short chapters that dispense nugget after nugget of intrigue, The Jasmine Throne whisks you along a rollercoaster of sharp humour, heart-wrenching sacrifices, and a tangled, unapologetic love story.
All this would be enough for anyone to rave about this book, but what really caught my attention about The Jasmine Throne was the magic. It’s a soft, plant-based magic system with mysterious roots (no pun intended) that is revered, feared, or weaponised by those that wield it. The rot plays an important but subtle role in this novel that kept me guessing at the wider plot and I was wrong every time. I’m always a fan of nature-based magic and this is an example of how to do it with care and consideration.
I consumed this story through reading a mixture of the audiobook and the physical book and can strongly recommend both. The audiobook is particularly good if you’re a speedy reader like me and need some initial help with nailing the pronunciations from the start.
If you’re a fan of queer romances built into chunky books about political intrigue and small actions with big consequences then I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
The Jasmine Throne is available now – pick up your copy on Bookshop.org