“The desert had given him to me, and there was no way it would rip him from me.”
– Annie Sullivan
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Thank you to Blink Publishing for an Advanced Published Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Welcome to my stop of the Tiger Queen Tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club! I received an advance finished copy of this book which was just absolutely gorgeous that you can check out on my Instagram, but on my blog today I’ll be discussing my thoughts on the book along and will be including some of my quotes from it. We’re also hosting a giveaway of goodies for this book that can be found at the end of this post. So stick around and see what Tiger Queen has in store for you.
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.
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About the Author
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).
Tiger Queen was a fast-paced read about Princess Kateri who hard to learn some hard truths and put her past with some foes aside to find her inner strength and try to save her people. The idea behind Tiger Queen was based off the short story “The Lady or the Tiger?” and, once I read it, it could be seen that this is what the story was built around. While it started with that basic concept though, it grew into more than that. We had real characters suffering, with basic needs beyond that of the challenges Kateri herself was facing. I’d also compare the Desert boys and Cion to Peter Pan and his “lost boys” with some Robin Hood aspects tossed in. Tiger Queen seemed to be an imagining of all this in a desert land unconnected to the rest of the world around it.
When we enter the story we are thrust into the arena where a desert boy has been captured and is trying to decide his own fate. Two doors hold drastically different outcomes, a tiger and freedom, and princess Kateri knows which one she hopes he chooses. The desert boys are the cause of her suffering, having taken her mother and brothers lives. When the boy escapes the tiger she is livid but has bigger things to worry about. It is Achra tradition that Keteri must face a competitor in the arena every month of her sixteenth year. To become queen and chose her own husband she must defeat all twelve competitors, lose and she will have to wed whoever bested her. So far eleven of the twelve competitors have been beaten. When the twelfth is announced though Kateri knows she will lose and let down her dead mother who made Kateri promise to protect the people of the kingdom. Instead of running like she wants to do though, Kateri seeks out her greatest enemy. Even if she were to the past behind her and swallow her pride for the good of her people, would Cion leader of the desert boys even be willing to help her? Just like the desert boys she now has a choice to face, but while her options are known she’s still not sure which of the two doors is the best option for herself and maybe things in the kingdom aren’t at all what they seem.
Tiger Queen was an enjoyable read but a bit predictable. While simplistic in plot though, Sullivan’s world-building of the kingdom made it an enjoyable read but left me with questions. The kingdom of Achra is a dry, desert land rich in culture and tradition. We learned a lot about these traditions such as wedding/engagement bracelets and why Kateri was made to fight for her position as Queen. We were also immersed with desert foods, both delicacies and bottom of the barrel which totally grossed me out but made sense since those were the options they had in a dry, hot land. I would have liked to have known how the people survived on so little water. Since reading the story I’ve tracked my usage and yike I for sure would be in trouble if a drought came my way.
Kateri was a strong female character who faced a ton of trials throughout the story and came out even stronger and more well-rounded. Growing up as she did in the kingdom she took a lot of things for granted and didn’t realize just how bad people were suffering. She thinks she is fulfilling the promise to her mother by training so hard and beating the arena competitors, but she is truly just buying into everything her father says and being abused into complacency. It’s not until she joins the desert boys that she sees how wrong she has been about everything. As you read you see how Keteri adjusts to these harsh realizations and actually becomes someone that would make a good ruler. Her character growth is tremendous and while at the beginning of the book she wanted the tiger, by the end she picks being the better person.
Cion and the desert boys were my favorite part of the story. They were dealt a crap hand and yet they still found ways to help others and celebrate the little things in their lives. I wanted to know more about their way of life and the boys themselves. We really only get to know Cion and his brother and even they weren’t as fleshed out as I wanted them to be. That was one of the biggest problems I had about this book. Besides Kateri, the characters were very cut and dry motive-wise. You knew who the villains and the good guys were, but not how they were cast in such roles. We knew a tiny about how they each came to be as they were, but their circumstances and backstories seemed a bit brushed over.
Since I felt like I didn’t really know Cion and neither did Kateri, I had a hard time jumping on board with the romance. He was a great guy and I wanted to know more about his journey to being who he was. Even when on the same side it still felt like he was hiding some things from the group, a part of it but also a step outside it at times. I needed him to be as developed as Kateri to jump on board with shipping them. It made the pivotal moment of tiger versus lady a bit underwhelming which sucked since that was the main aspect of the book.
Overall I give Tiger Queen 3/5 stars since I did it as a quick read and it was fun to learn about living in the desert. Kateri was a great character whose journey I enjoyed reading about. I do wish the epilogue had been a bit longer but it did a good job of wrapping everything up with a nice ribbon on top. The writing style was fantastic and I had to keep a bottle of water next to me at all times because of just how descriptive and real the thirst was written. I’ll definitely be following Sullivan’s work in the future and i wish Tiger Queen the best out in the world.
Favorite Quotes (Teasers)
I didn’t talk a lot about the writing style in my review because I wanted it to speak for itself. While reading I found myself highlighting a ton of quotes that spoke to me. Some long and some short, but it was the most I’ve taken note of while reading. So without further ado here are the best (in my unbiased opinion) quotes from the novel:
“Sometimes being the strongest isn’t about being the strongest isn’t about having the most physical strength. True strength is about being kind. It’s forgiving wrongs with words not swords.”
“You are their voice. Never forget that.”
“We’d chosen to put the past behind us. And while there was still that edge of tension, of fighting to understand each other, I also felt and underlying understanding growing between us.”
“That was when I vowed I’d be so strong that no one could ever take someone from me again. In the middle of the desert, my heart had turned to ice.”
“We can’t focus on what we’ve lost or the weight it will bury us faster than the sand. We have to focus on what’s still to gain. We have to focus on finding joy where we can.”
“Sometimes you can’t stop people from doing terrible things…”
He’d tried to bend the desert to his will instead of realizing we’re all at the mercy of those sand.”
“I hadn’t thought love could exist in this desert. I thought it was the behest mirage of all. Something meant to trick those who sought it out, to distract them from their miserable lives, the ones without futures. But it wasn’t. It was about hope. It was about having a future worth living.”
I hope you enjoy these quotes as much as I do and that they make you pick up Tiger Queen! It was beautifully written and I think the quotes I picked show just that.
Prize: Tiger Queen Poster & Signed Bookplate! (US ONLY)
Start Date: September 4, 2019
End Date: September 13, 2019
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