Summary: 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.
Genre: fantasy, horror
The amount of times I pick up a book because it has a gorgeous cover only to be disappointed in the story is higher than I want to admit (mostly because it means admitting I’m a glutton for and can be won over with pretty cover art), but The Last Tale of the Flower Bride did not disappoint. It’s best to go into this story knowing as little as possible, and for that reason I will try to sing it the praises it deserves without giving away too much.
From the very first page, I was enamored by the writing. The prose here is absolutely stunning, and I would easily have given this book five stars purely for that reason alone. I adored the myths and fairytales that are littered throughout this story. They were seemingly a small piece of the story, a mere common interest of Indigo and her bridegroom, that gradually evolved into foreshadowing for not only the couple but also other characters in the story.
The story starts with a man who meets the enigmatic Indigo, and the dynamic between them as their relationship develops is beautiful albeit terrifying. The book is told through the man’s perspective, and even though the two quickly form a romantic relationship which leads to a marriage, Indigo is still constantly perceived as being mysterious to her own husband. I was completely intrigued by Indigo, as she felt otherworldly, almost non-human in that she was too perfect to be real.
The story rushes through their relationship history to get to the real plot of the story, which is that Indigo and her husband must return to her childhood home because her aunt is dying, thus opening up secrets about Indigo’s past life. Alternating chapters about her childhood are told from the perspective of Indigo’s best friend, Azure, who disappeared.
Obviously these are the more interesting chapters, but I still felt just as strongly connected and pulled into the modern day parts of the story, where Indigo’s husband unravels her secrets. The haunted/”alive” house elements were stronger in the modern day, and really drove home the gothic atmosphere, whereas the chapters from Azure had enough formidable elements of their own to create that tension and horror.
This book beautifully combined difficult real-life scenarios with a twinge of fantasy to make you wonder what exactly was real and what was that of the imagination. This is a story about grief, abuse, and neglect. It’s a story about how cruel life can be to children – so much so that they’re forced to create their own magical worlds to escape to in order to feel safe and loved.
“We are two blues, the neat seam of dusk and dawn. We share a sky, if not a soul, and yet we are cut of the same shades.”
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