Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

Published September 10th 2019 by Blink

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.

REVIEW:

The desert is a relentless, showering the Kingdom of Achra with ferocious sandstorms and a terrible drought. The King tries to keep the peace and his people alive by rationing what water is left in the wells, but the frequent raids of the notorious Desert Boys force him to keep allowing less and less water. Princess Kateri knows the fate of Achra rests on her shoulders, and she vows to wipe out the contingent of Desert Boys and save her people when she’s crowned Queen.

But law makes Kateri compete for her crown against her suitors in the arena. If she beats them all, she will earn the right to rule. If she loses once, she will be forced to marry the suitor and give up her crown. Kateri knows she can beat the fighters and secure her rule, but her final challenger causes her to realize that she won’t win, and so she flees into the desert to seek help from the only person who can teach her.

The fate of Achra is suspended in a delicate balance, and only the one whom she believes is the enemy can save her.

Escape. The word whispered through my thoughts.

I turned to look out over the rolling desert.

A suspenseful fantasy novel inspired by Frank Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger?”, Tiger Queen is a great combination of historical facts and mythical twists. Because of the point of view of the story limited exclusively to Kateri, everything was mysterious and intriguing to the final stages of the conflict. It reminded me of To Best the Boys by Mary Weber in both writing style and plot development.

This novel I would suggest for young adult readers. There is romance and combative violence, but no coarse language.

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