Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan
Publication Date: September 10th, 2019
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.
I went in only knowing two things: The cover is GORGEOUS (yes, I’m totally guilty of judging books by their cover) and it was a Lady or the Tiger retelling. I read that short story for school, but like most people it was a LONG time ago and I didn’t really know much about it.
For those that need a little refresher (like I did), the original short story featured a young woman responsible for her love’s fate. She had to choose between two doors: One has a tiger behind it, one has a lady that the man would marry. And the woman has to choose between watching her love die… or go with someone else. The short story ends with no actual answer to the title question, leaving the reader to decide.
After I gave myself that little refresher course, I was definitely intrigued as to how that short story could be told in a new and unique way, and Annie Sullivan did NOT disappoint!
When we first meet Kateri, I felt a bit disconnected from her and it took a bit of time to understand her, but I LOVED reading in her perspective and seeing her side of the story, especially because it added this extra layer to the story and this distrust. The narration and voice were really well done and though I usually don’t read 1st person POV, this one did a really good job of it!
The few main characters were done really well, though it definitely took some time for me to fully trust them all! Cion was definitely an intriguing character and though the chemistry felt a bit lacking at first, I definitely grew fond of them! I especially loved the missing pieces of their backstories and how everything slowly pieced together, keeping me intrigued throughout the story!
The character development was really great, and seeing my girl Kateri grow stronger was AMAZING.
I especially loved the villains of the story because for once it wasn’t “morally grey” it was just EVIL. I never had a moment of doubt about the bad guys maybe being redeemable, and that was definitely refreshing for me (since I’m a sucker for reading about morally grey characters).
I LOVED the staging of the plot and how it started off slow (but never took away my attention) and then suddenly I was at the climax and I HAD to finish the book IMMEDIATELY. It was beautifully paced (though I felt like there needed to be more substance leading up to the inevitable romance–I didn’t ship them for a while, and I wish I did because Cion is SWOONWORTHY OKAY?).
I really loved the world-building and how perfectly everything was incorporated into the plot. The little details in the desert were so carefully placed but everything that was mentioned was brought full circle and I LOVED THAT. I especially loved that the climax of the story had me on the edge of my seat, gasping out loud and screaming because it was all so exciting and nerve-wracking and STRESSFUL! And the way the story wrapped up was just a cherry on top for how amazing this book was!
Overall, this was such a unique story that I would definitely recommend to anyone who needs something new!
If you enjoy unique retellings, stories set in the desert, amazing GASP-OUT-LOUD moments, beautiful world building and storytelling, strong women fighting evil evil men, and Desert boys that know they’re perfect but also are totally humble and deserve all the water in the world this is the book for you! If you want astonishing discoveries of truth, great character development, and rebellions against unfair laws definitely pick this up TODAY!
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).
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