OMG I can’t wait for this one! I’ve been so excited to read this book for ages, and now’s my chance! Thanks so much to Fantastic Flying Book Club, Annie Sullivan, and BLINK for this opportunity! Don’t forget to click on the banner for the rest of the stops on this tour!
Thank goodness I basically finished prepping for this before the storm hit – so I don’t know if I’m going to lose power or anything right now – and I don’t have to be late with this, so yay for being semi prepared!
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.
Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Netgalley, Fantastic Flying Book Club, and BLINK for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
Murder, Violence, Death, Betrayal
TBR Readathon: Favorite Color
ATLA Readathon: Pet
Okay, seriously when I found out that I got approved for this on Netgalley, I was freaked out. Then when I found out I was going to be on this blog tour, I double freaked out. I’ve been so excited to support Annie Sullivan after seeing her on TBR and Beyond, and just experiencing the kind of person she is. And the premise of this story was so intriguing to me, that I couldn’t resist!
Kateri is the princess of Achra. She is the only daughter to the king, and from the moment that her mother and brother were murdered, she has done nothing but train to be the very best fighter in Achra. She has to, if she expects to be able to be free from having to marry the victor. So far, she’s won every single battle against her would-be suitors. She’s strong minded, and hasn’t had a moment to be a kid in the 10 years since her life was uprooted.
Cion is the legendary leader of the Desert Boys, a group that causes havoc by stealing water from the kingdom and making everyone’s lives miserable. At first, Kateri thinks that he is to blame for the drought since he is the leader of the Desert Boys. She also doesn’t trust him when he agrees to train her in order to defeat Rodric, but after spending time with him and the rest of the Desert Boys, its clear that he is just a boy that is trying to protect those that can’t defend themselves. He would make a benevolent leader, and I think he’s one of my favorite people in the world.
Dimic is the boy that was in the arena in the beginning of the novel. At first, Kateri wanted him to die for being a part of the Desert Boys, the group that was responsible for killing her mother and baby brother, despite him not being alive by then. But he ends up saving her from the guards out to capture and enslave her, and she comes to find out that he is actually Cion’s little brother. He possesses a prowess in his movements, and it’s obvious that the desert has made him grow up sooner than a lot of children.
Rodric is Kateri’s father’s new guard captain, and his origins are unknown. His entrance into Achra was him killing the king’s old captain, saying that if his captain was that easy to kill, then he needs a new one. He’s cruel to Kateri, constantly ridiculing her during their training and never letting up for a moment. His cruelty may run deeper than Kateri ever realized, and with the King wanting Rodric to take over the throne, he may show his true colors to the people of Achra even more.
Achra has been going through a major drought since before Kateria was born. The people seem to think that it is testament to the weakness of their ruler. Kateri is determined to prove herself worthy to rule her people – by battling twelve suitors and winning them all before her 18th birthday – in order to be her own woman and free. Not only this, but she has promised to avenge her mother and brother by defeating the Desert Boys, the group that has been blamed for their death from the very beginning. The King has made it so the people of Achra see the Desert Boys as a common enemy, while they go thirsty and die all around them.
When Kateri finds out that her father plans for her to battle Rodric for her final battle before freedom, claiming that she has disgraced him by getting injured during her previous battle and that she isn’t strong enough to be the Queen, she ends up running away to the desert to seek out Cion. He’s the only one that seems to be able to train her in a way that will defeat Rodric, especially since he has been training her this entire time.
She soon discovers that not everything in her kingdom is as it seems, and she must decide her own fate, and the fate of the rest of her people in Achra if she is to reclaim her throne and her freedom.
The world building is pretty interesting. Having to go through a drought for seventeen years – longer even because it was since before Kateri was born – but somehow being able to survive takes a lot of resourcefulness. I don’t think I could do it, but the people of Achra do. That’s one of the things that Kateri will constantly comment on, how Achrans are survivors, and despite all of their hardships, they still figure out a way to make do. They shouldn’t have to, but when your King tells you that there’s not enough water for everyone, and each family is forced to only receive half a bucket of water a day, what else can you do?
Cion is one of the most… awe inspiring and selfless characters that I’ve ever met. I’m actually kind of surprised at how much I like him, when I usually don’t go for the good guys. Knowing that he has literally sacrificed his life and freedom for not only his family but others as well, shows to me that he knows what it means to be a true leader, not the way Kateri’s father is. He’s also patient with Kateri during their training, and teaches her how to trust again.
The fact that she can’t even be her own person until she proves her prowess in battle against twelve opponents bothers me. Kateri says more than once that after these battles, she will be free. Which tells me that she is no more her own person than her maid Lavia is. I get that some kingdoms have to somehow make sure that their lineage continues, but why does she have to literally beat all these men in combat to prove herself? She’s already the princess.
Oh I also hate that the people of Achra literally attack Kateri every time she has to walk the streets to or from the palace. Despite having guards around to protect her, she gets her hair torn out, her dress torn, spit on, just the works. She’s their princess, and while she thinks she’s doing what she can to be the best would-be Queen that she could be, they don’t give her that chance. She wasn’t the one responsible for the drought, but they punish her, and nobody does anything to stop it. I just hate how much abuse she gets, and it’s somehow okay. She knows that they are just taking out their frustration on her, but it physically hurts to see her go through that every single time.
Just that whole passage really stuck with me, because I never really think about what kind of strength I want to have, or what else constitutes as strength besides the physical aspect of it.
I think her realization that… she really wasn’t as innocent as she believed was a really good start to character development on Sullivan’s effort. Kateri really had to be pushed out of the comfort of her palace to see that she wasn’t anyone’s natural savior, and that while her intentions were good to her, they didn’t come off that way to a lot of other people.
She battled eleven suitors, ten of which was before the book started. We only get to witness this one being exiled after she defeated him, leaving his two daughters behind. What about the rest of them? Were they able to be saved by the Desert Boys, when their only crime was losing to Kateri in a battle of swords and skill? When she was able to come home and be relieved that she didn’t have to marry them, did she ever stop to think that they would never see their families again, and would have to suffer at the hands of the desert itself? Cruel and unyielding to anyone that dares to conquer it? I don’t think so. Not until this moment. And I feel like this was the moment that things started to change for her.
The idea that those in control – whether a King, a President, a Dictator – would keep their people suffering in order to maintain their power is a theme that has always made me angry.
Do you know how much my heart ached reading this line? Even though this is a work of fiction, things like this happen every single day and I’ve been privileged enough to never experience it because of where I live. I couldn’t imagine anyone going through this, and Cion had a point. Kateri thought that she was doing what she could to gain her spot on the throne so she could help, but why didn’t she do anything before then? Literally, where was she when everything was happening?
I have so many emotions about this novel that I didn’t think I would when I first started reading it. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much emotion writing out a review or wanting to make sure that my thoughts were cohesive before this one. And it’s interesting because I didn’t think that I could think that way about a fantasy novel no less. I mean, it’s not a contemporary novel that matches our political climate today, but it still awoke a kind of anger in me for what happened in this novel that I had to just let it out. I think Sullivan did a great job with this novel.
In case you didn’t guess, I pretty much use the same template for all my playlist album covers so I know which ones are mine… visually.
Also I may have gone over the top with Tiger named songs, but hey, it’s my playlist. And it’s pretty fun too, so I hope you enjoy it!
So this one is going to be fun. I took a lot of creative liberty with this dream cast mostly because of the setting that this story takes place. I feel like my characters hopefully match what this story portrays, and I hope you like my choices. Let me know who would be in your dream cast!
“I’ve fought against you for so long because I thought you were a plague draining the life from the people. My people. But I see now that you had your own reasons for stealing water.”
“The only way to survive as one of us is to help each other.”
The next thing I knew, Dimic had thrown himself against the wall of the alcove, but instead of smashing against it, he’d kicked up and off it to the adjacent wall. He sprang once more, grabbing ahold of the roof.
“And after I’m king, if she gets in the way of my plans, she’ll meet the same fate as the queen.”
Oh man! I had a lot of fun with this one. Not as many characters to do a dream cast for, or maybe I was just being a little lazy or something, but I’m really happy with my choices.
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog during this tour! Go read Tiger Queen when you get a chance! It will be a fun ride, for sure.