From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom.
Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”
In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.
But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.
During my stay in Tres Palos, Guerrero, Mexico, I had a lot of time to read while vacationing with my grandparents. My family’s hometown is rural, and my grandparents do not have WiFi. It was an interesting week for me as I got a lot of reading done! Also, wow, first review this year!
Thank you Netgalley for an ARC of Tiger Queen for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I chose Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan as one of my vacation books as the premise was interesting, and it was a standalone book. What I had expected was a tale of mystery, deception, and overall an epic tale. Tiger Queen was not that. instead it was extremely generic. The twists and turns did not add much to the story. Given the synposis and the actual story, I was surprised by the overwhelming positive reviews on Goodreads.
Princess Kateri is a tough and headstrong princess. Kateri has spent most of her life fighting in the arena against opponents to win her independence and to become the next ruler of the Kingdom of Achra. The protagonist has a lot at stake to lose. From a young age, Kateri has sought out validation and love from her father, the king. She fights to prove that she is capable as many of the rulers are males. Her life is not made easy due to the severe drought and windstorms that effect the life of her subjects. The protagonist wishes to resolve the issues of her kingdom by seeking to eliminate the Desert Boy, a gang that is responsible for killing her mother, and stealing water from the reserves. Kateri places all the blame on the Desert Boys, rather than seek different solutions to maintain her kingdom. Though she seeks the Desert Boys, Kateri wants to get revenge for the pain they have caused her. She believes that the Desert Boys are making the lives of her people difficult, when that’s not the case. She believes her people love her, but her subjects view her as privilege and greedy.
Kateri has a difficult time adjusting to the truth of the matter. Kateri wishes to uphold her mother’s promise by protecting her people. The drought makes this promise difficult to fulfill. The people of Archa does not see that Kateri suffers in her position. The King expects Kateri to be perfect. Any mistake tarnishes her father’s views of her. Kateri longs to become close to her father, but he is cold and distant. Regardless of their familial bond, Kateri never gives up on her father. Though her life may not be perfect, she endures physical and emotional suffering under her tutor’s lessons. After learning that her tutor, Rodric, Kateri feels completely dismayed by her circumstances. She knows that there is no way to defeat Rodric. The princess understands that to beat her tutor, she has to seek an alliance with her enemies.
As I’ve mentioned, the book is quite generic when it comes to the villains. The actions of the king and Rodric were highly suspicious. I had a feeling each man was evil due to their ambitions and greed. Although Kateri loved her father, he despised his daughter. The king did not seek ways to repair his relationship with his daughter. Kateri was always left out of the loop when it came to the problems of her kingdom. What felt frustrating was that the motives of the villains were obvious. I did not have to look hard for the villains. Instead of having complex characters, the readers are made aware of the goals of each character by the remaining half of the book. The secrets that were revealed were not shocking.
As for the romance, I was not a major fan. I cared more about Kateri’s journey to win her throne. It seemed that the romance between Kateri and Cion was going to be a slow burn. Kateri does not trust Cion as she sought the help of the Desert Boys. She gradually falls for the leader of the gang and begins to learn what real love is. The banter between the characters was cute, but that’s about it. I don’t have much to say about Cion. But I will say is that I am glad there was not a love triangle nor a possible romance between Kateri and Rodric.
Overall, I felt this book was okay. The world building was really good, Kateri made a compelling character, but everything else fell short.