Original date of publication: 2010
My edition: 2010 (Atria)
Why I decided to read: it was offered through the Amazon Vine program
How I acquired my copy: ditto
Shadow Princess is the story of the building of the Taj Mahal in the early 17th century. When Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal, dies in childbirth, he retreats from the world, building a lavish temple in his wife’s honor. The story centers primarily on Shah Jahan’s eldest daughter, Jahanara, who becomes a strong player in the struggle between Jahan’s sons for control of the Mughal throne.
It’s an interesting premise, an interesting story, and interesting setting—but I’m afraid that this book simply failed to capture my imagination in the way I wanted it to. I love stories about strong, prowerful women, but I thought that Jahanara was way too perfect at times, and I thought that her brothers and sister were much more believable as people. As a result, I felt that Jahanara’s character was a bit wooden at times.
Another problem I had was with the way the author told this story. She keeps jumping back and forth in time, narrating bits and pieces of the mughal history leading up to the building of the Taj Mahal, including Shah Jahan’s struggle to gain the throne for himself. It would have been a much more interesting story if the author has chosen to narrate the story that way, rather than merely reciting a bunch of facts and dates. As a result, I felt that the book was very dry at times. I felt that a story of this caliber could have been made into a much longer book (I realized while writing this that this is in fact one in a series of books, but my interest wasn’t piqued enough to read all of them). There’s a lot of great period detail here, but I’m afraid that it failed to really keep me interested the whole way through.