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.
Review: 4 Stars
For some reason I didn’t have very high expectations when I started reading this book, but it drew me in from the very first chapter. I didn’t expect it to be so cultural. Annie Sullivan does an amazing job conveying just how harsh living in the desert could be. The people not only struggle with the heat and lack of water, but also sandstorms, bugs, scorpions and snakes. The harsh realities of desert living are brought to life in this cultural retelling that I found this book to be a great read.
“You do what you must to survive,” I supplied. Even if it meant going to your enemy to team up against an ever greater evil.
I really loved reading about Princess Kateri. She lived in a society where strength is the most valued quality and she had to fight suitors to prove her right to rule. Her father had expectations that were extremely high. Anything less than perfection was considerred failure to him. He abused her trying to mold her into being absolutely perfect and she tried so hard to please him. I found this relationship sick, but also easy to understand because every child wants to please their parents. Kateri was uptight and fierce, but throughout the story she grew so much and I wound up loving her so much more by the end than I had at the start of the book.
“I don’t want you to forget that sometimes being the strongest isn’t about having the most physical strength. Control isn’t strength. True strength is about being kind. It’s forgiving wrongs with words and not with swords. It’s about caring for our people, to stand for those who cannot. You are their voice. Never forget that.”
The plot was really cool. The inclusion of the desert boys really added a unique element to this story. Cion, the leader of the desert boys, was one of my favorite characters . He was a great fighter, but also had a sense of humor and he taught Kateri to loosen up and he added some levity to the story. The scenes wher3e the desert boys have fun in various ways really made me smile and made me feel closer to the characters. There was one twist in the plot that I saw coming, but one that caught me completely off guard. I found myself so invested in this story that at one point I was so angry with a character that I wanted to throw my book across the room. I really didn’t anticipate that I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did.
No, Cion and I were more alike than I ever imagined. And if there was anyone in this whole desert I wanted to be like, it was him. Besides, his obvious strength with a sword, his underlying kindness for those he met, his willingness to give them everything he could, made me want to do better. To be better. When I was with him, I finally felt like I was living up to my mother’s expectations. It was more than that though. I finally felt like me. Not a princess, not my father’s puppet, not Rodric’s tiger on a leash. Me.
Overall I am super impressed. I didn’t think this story would be so cultural, but it was the characters that really got me invested. This was my first read by Annie Sullivan, but now I’m dying to read A Touch of Gold. Annie Sullivan knows how to bring characters to live, balance the heavy scenes with banter or light moments and also write a plot that makes the book hard to set down. Annie Sullivan is an author to pay attention to and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
I’d never gotten to perform for my family. And this group of boys was the closest I had to family now. They’d taken me in. They’d protected me. They’d fought for me. The least I could do for sharing their home, their water, and their food was give them this one gift in return.
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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).
Prize: Tiger Queen poster and signed bookplate (USA only)