Book Smugglers Publishing First Contact

A Smugglerific Cover: The Vishakanya’s Choice by Roshani Chokshi

In which we reveal the cover for The Vishakanya’s Choice by Roshani Chokshi!

Today we are thrilled to share with you the third and final cover of Book Smugglers Publishing’s First Contact season of short stories.

Without further ado, BEHOLD! The smugglerific cover!

The Vishakanya's Choice

About the Story

“Did we have a choice? An honest one. A real Choice.”

Who would you be if you had a choice? What would you do?

Early in her life, Sudha’s fate was divined to be a lonely, fruitless future of young widowhood. So, it was considered a blessing when she was brought to the Hastinapur harem to become a vishakanya–a weapon, an assassin, a poison maiden whose very touch is toxic.

Sudha has never had a choice, has never known anything except the cold beauty of the harem’s stone walls.

After years of living in isolation with her vishakanya sisters, Sudha is given her first mission: to end the life of a great man. Someone who, unlike her, leads a life full of glittering Choices fit for an emperor.

In their fateful encounter, a vishakanya meets a conqueror and a weapon creates a legend.


A Word From Your Friendly Neighborhood Editors (and Book Smugglers)

So far in our First Contact sequence, we’ve had an experimental short story in the form of a questionnaire for a delegation of first contact, a comedic alien-human business negotiation, and a luminous science fiction romance between a fallen star and a marooned scientist. The Vishakanya’s Choice is unlike all of these stories in that it is not science fiction of any kind–but it does, of course, explore the concept of First Contact. This time, the theme is examined through a historical fantasy lens.

The Vishakanya’s Choice is a tale of, well, choice. It’s about a young woman with no prospects, who is given over to a life of toxins, poisons, and solitude. A vishakanya is a poison maiden of ancient lore and historical record, used as assassins in 321–185 BCE–it was rumored that a vishakanya’s touch (or even her gaze) was fatal, and as such their poison caress was saved for important, powerful assassinations for the Empire. Roshani Chokshi’s story examines these poison maidens and gives voice to the vishakanya through Sudha–a girl coming of age, who defies tradition and expectation for a Choice of her own (and creates a legend of a conqueror in her wake).

We love the empowering resonance of this story as much as we love its historical appeal–and its unique take on First Contact. And we cannot wait to share Sudha’s story with all of you.


About the Author: Roshani Chokshi

Roshani Chokshi

Roshani Chokshi lives in the land of grits and boiled peanuts. Her family is ruled by a Great Pyrenees overlord known by the cryptic name of “Panda.” Her unpublished manuscript was a 2014 Daphne du Maurier finalist and she was a finalist in the 2014 Katha Fictions Contest. She studies law by day and writes fantasy by night. Her first novel, The Star Touched Queen, is forthcoming from Macmillan in 2016.

About the Artist: M Sereno

Vishakanya's Choice (no text)

M Sereno is a queer Filipina artist and writer who lives in regional Australia with her partner and their two Pomeranians. She works in ink, watercolor, and words, and delights in creating fantastical art that turns ideas of beauty and monstrosity on their heads. She has created baybayin calligraphy paintings for private clients as well as commissions for publications such as Lackington’s Magazine, Editions Jentayu, Alphabet of Embers, as well as the ebook cover for Crawford Award winner Zen Cho’s short story collection Spirits Abroad.

Find her on Twitter as @likhain. For commissions and project inquiries please email her at or contact her through her website at


How to Get the Story

The Vishakanya’s Choice will be published officially on August 25, 2015. You’ll be able to read the short story in full for free here on The Book Smugglers, but we’ll also have a DRM-free ebook (EPUB, MOBI, AZK) that contains the story as well as a Q&A, and an essay from the author available for purchase on all major ebook retail sites.

Preorder the Ebook Today
Kindle US | Kindle UK | Kobo | Google Play | Smashwords

Need a copy *right* now? Want to read it *today*? You can buy it directly from us!

Buy eBook

Add the book on Goodreads, and read The Vishakanya’s Choice for free online on August 25, 2015.

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