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.
Kateri must prove herself to her father and her people by battling her suitors. If she can best them all, she can become queen and choose who to marry. But when the last suitor is someone she knows she can't defeat, she has no choice but to find someone who can train her to win. So, she flees to the desert.
Enter Cion. He's the leader of the Desert Boys and the only one who can help Kateri. He's the last person she wants to turn to, but it's her only way out. However, the more time she spends with Cion and the Desert Boys, the more she understands why they do what they do. Not only that, but her father has been keeping her in the dark about more than she ever could've imagined. It's up to Kateri to keep the promise she made to her mom and protect her people.
TIGER QUEEN is an enchanting and epic retelling of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” with a kickass, strong female lead. Kateri is so tough that I can't help but cheer her on. Even when she discovers earth-shattering secrets, she still keeps her head held high and pushes on. I absolutely loved Cion as well and his fierce loyalty. Annie Sullivan gives depth to her characters that makes you fall in love with them. The words weaved together in this story are alluring and suck you right in until you reach the back cover. It definitely gave me an Aladdin feel with all of the sand, which makes it even more amazing.
Final Verdict: I would recommend this to fans of retellings, fantasy, strong heroines, legends and myths, and fairytales.
Secondarily, her heart is burning for revenge against the Desert Boys, who she believes murdered her mother and baby brother. The Desert Boys are a mysterious group who live in the desert and fight off soldiers to steal water from the ever dwindling water supply. The king continues to tighten restrictions on water, rationing it to very low levels for the townspeople, and restricting the number of children a family can have to two, to also promote conservation of water. As the value of sons is very high- signifying virility and strength of the father, this limit leads to unfair practices and sometimes the death of women who bear daughters. Kateri knows her father would have rather had a son, and he can be cruel in his lack of care for her- until she wins the fights easily, but any sign of weakness can bring his anger.
However, when her father announces that the last challenger will be a viciously cruel man who also was responsible for her training and so will likely beat her, Kateri knows she needs to find someone new to train her- and who better than the Desert Boy who bested her in the past? Her journey will be both physical and emotional as she comes to see her life and that of others through new eyes.
What I loved: Lush, beautifully crafted, and lyrically written, the world of Achra and the desert is built wonderfully. This story pulls the reader in right from the start. Kateri shows a lot of character growth throughout the story, and I loved watching the way she changes and finds herself. She is a fantastic lead, and readers see the world through her first person point-of-view. The whole plot is completely engrossing and will certainly have broad appeal. I also loved the twisting takes on the short story that really make this unique. The romance is just the cherry on the sundae that is this delicious read.
Final verdict: TIGER QUEEN is a gorgeous, lush YA fiction that will hold a lot of appeal for fans of THE REMNANT CHRONICLES, THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, and THE WINNER'S CURSE. Highly recommend for anyone looking for a beautifully crafted stand-alone book.