I'm so excited to be part of the Blog Tour for Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan! Today I'm sharing my review, as well as a fun quiz: would you survive your Achran trial? Click here to follow along with the tour!
The Book and its Author
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).
I think the best word for Tiger Queen is “unexpected.” I went in with some idea of what my reading experience would be like, found something different, and ended up liking it! This story is an action-packed, exploratory read, with plenty of tension and an excellent training montage. I kid you not, that was one of my favorite parts of the whole book.
As I mentioned, I loved the action and training scenes. Sullivan has a knack for writing the quick motions of swordplay, and I liked the realistic descriptions of the moves and techniques Kateri learned. Her trainer taught her to focus on instinct and trusting her body more than her sight, which was all very intuitive. Even just reading some of the scenes kept me on my toes! In certain moments, I had no idea whether or not Kateri would win, and those were the scenes in which I realized how much I actually wanted her to beat her opponent.
I came around to the romance and love interest: at first I thought there wouldn’t be any, and I didn’t mind that because we need more books sans romance, but eventually I came around. Tiger Queen has a great premise for an enemies-to-lovers romance, and I can always support that. Plus, the love interest himself was a pretty good guy—he wanted to help his people, and risked a lot in doing so. I liked seeing Kateri come around to trust him, and both of them learning to support one another.
I liked the last half of the story a lot more than the beginning. It was quick and snappy, and I liked Kateri’s growth. She needed to come to some major realizations before I could support her actions, and I’m happy she was interested in learning and being open-minded. The climax was so thrilling, and it had great emotional impact as well.
My main issue is the lack of female characters, and the addition of unnecessary patriarchal ideas. Kateri was the only notable female character for most of the story, and even she did not have that much agency. She is forced into many of her actions, and much of her character relies on being controlled by the men in her life. The first half of the book didn’t give me much of the fierce feminist vibe that had been touted in the blurb, but as I mentioned, that did change.
As for the unchallenged patriarchy: royal women (princesses) are the only ones who have to prove they’re worthy of the crown. If a man beats them in a fight, he gets to rule. As per my understanding, princes do not have to do this and inherit the crown by birthright. Many noble women also wear gold neck cuffs and heavy engagement bracelets, which are compared in-text to shackles. Men do not have to wear either. I honestly do not believe any of these gendered specifications were crucial to the storyline, and I’m not sure why they were included.
Overall, Tiger Queen is a great read for those seeking a light fantasy. I do wish some topics were further addressed, but I would give it 4/5 stars as it is.
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.