ARC Review: Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

Title: Tiger Queen 
Author: Annie Sullivan 
Genre: Fantasy 
Source: ARC provided via Blink 
Publisher: Blink
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 must admit, I never heard of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” before reading Tiger Queen, which is based off the short story. After doing some research and learning more about "The Lady, or the Tiger?" I was really excited to see where  Annie Sullivan was going to take Tiger Queen. A fierce desert princess who is hell bent on saving her kingdom? Sign me up!

By ancient law in the kingdom of Achra, Kateri must battle competitors to the throne in the arena each month up until her birthday. If Kateri looses, the throne becomes her competitor's and she in return becomes their wife. Luckily for Kateri she has beaten every one of them. When the competitor for her last battle is revealed and Kateri knows she doesn’t stand a chance at winning, but she knows that if this person was to rule, he would destroy the kingdom she swore to her mother she would protect. Achra has been plagued by drought and awful sandstorms making the kingdom dry and arid. The water is rationed and the people are the furthest thing from content but Kateri has hope that if she can win the throne she could restore Achra to what it once was. Kateri, desperate to win does something she never thought to do, she seeks out the Desert Boys a gang that steals water from the wells around the kingdom, to help her defeat her rival. But soon Kateri learns secrets that break her world in half, leaving her behind two doors. One with a tiger and one with a future.

I really did enjoy Kateri’s character and the trials she faced through out the novel. She starts Tiger Queen as the naive princess who “fights” for her people. But really she is only fighting to keep the promise she made to her mother before she died. As a reader you watch Kateri grown through out Tiger Queen. Her eyes are opened and through out the pages you see as her world is flipped upside down and she longs to do what will make things right. In the last pages of Tiger Queen you can’t help but cheer for Kateri and for the battle she is fighting.

I really enjoyed Annie’s writing style and how she described the kingdom of Achra. The poor and dreadful conditions came to life in front of my eyes. In flash backs you could see the kingdom for what it was and for what it could be if Kateri manages to take the throne.

The only problem I had with Tiger Queen was that I felt like some of that characters could be used a bit more time being fleshed out. I wanted to know more about them, what drove them and the circumstances but I feel like it was only brushed over, giving you a taste but not leaving you satisfied. I think if I didn’t find Cion, the leader of the Desert Boys to be underdeveloped I would have falling in love with the romance aspect of Tiger Queen more. I still enjoyed the romance aspect and routed for Kateri and Cion but, I didn’t love it. Where I felt like they lacked, Kateri didn’t. She was developed and relatable. You were able to feel her internal struggles and see that events that made her who she is and will be.

Overall Tiger Queen was a quick enjoyable read that is perfect for fantasy lovers. This is also a standalone which means there was no cliffhanger! I think Annie did an amazing job at wrapping up Kateri’s journey and tying up the loose ends of the last several chapters. Annie Sullivan will be an author I look out for in the future of YA Fantasy and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

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