Title: Tiger Queen
Author: Annie Sullivan
Release date: September 10, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
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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).
Tiger Queen is the first book I’ve read from Annie Sullivan and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. It’s action-packed with amazing character development and world building. Tiger Queen is a gritty novel that truly depicts what it would be like to live in the desert with multiple hardships. But, overall, it’s a book about overcoming boundaries and finding yourself in a world that constantly pushes you down.
“We can’t focus on what we’ve lost or the weight of it will bury us faster than the sand. We have to focus on what’s still to gain. We have to focus on finding joy when we can.”
Princess Kateri is a strong and brave protagonist, with a story that many can connect with. In order for her to win the crown, she has to battle a set of opponents in the arena and if she loses, she has to marry that opponent that night. Because if she can’t defeat all her suitors, then her father and her people see her as a weakness and not the strongest leader her kingdom could have. And because of this, Kateri feels like she has to constantly prove herself and that she can never make a mistake. Which is why she needs to defeat her last opponent. But when his identity is revealed, she knows she won’t be able to beat him without help. More specifically, she needs the help of the only person who knows her opponent well: Cion, the leader of the desert boys.
As long as Kateri has been alive, the desert boys have caused chaos within her kingdom by stealing their water. Her menacing father keeps restricting the water wells, which only pushes the desert boys to steal more water. But what Kateri learns from them makes her question everything her father has ever told her. Kateri not only learns more about the desert boys and their culture, but Cion also shows Kateri that not everything is about strength and being brave; there are times you are allowed to have fun and loosen up and be vulnerable, even for someone fighting for the crown and their life.
“‘Scars tell their own stories,’ Cion said, ‘and out here, we listen to them.'”
Princess Kateri thought she knew who she was and what her destiny was supposed to be within her castle walls. But the longer she spends with the desert boys, the more she realizes that her life in the castle was like a caged tiger: trapped, with no way of escaping. Just like her mother, who she promised she would change the world for all the kingdoms’ people, including the desert boys. Kateri also sees firsthand what’s it like to truly live in the desert, and she faces hardships she never had to face in her castle. But out in the desert, she finds more of herself and more of a connection with her mother, than she thought she would. She starts to learn what it means to really live a life to its fullest.
Sullivan brings the desert to life in this book with her mesmerizing and beautiful world building. She doesn’t just depict what living in the desert is like, but what the people of Kateri’s kingdom are like and what must be done for everyone to survive. Living in the desert isn’t an easy life, and Sullivan does a phenomenal job portraying the daily struggles. It’s a life that seems to only promise struggles and hardships for many. But Sullivan lets the reader know that Princess Kateri can change that, if only she is brave enough to do so.
“I hadn’t thought love could truly exist in this desert. I thought it was the biggest mirage of all. Something meant to trick those who sought it out, to distract them from their miserable lives, the ones without futures. But it wasn’t. It was about hope. It was about having a future worth living.”
Tiger Queen is a fun and fast-paced novel with a strong protagonist and amazing side characters. I was thoroughly impressed with Sullivan’s book, and I plan to read the rest of her books. Tiger Queen comes out Tuesday, September 10, so grab you copy this upcoming week!
Prize: Tiger Queen poster and signed bookplate (USA only)
Thank you, Fantastic Flying Book Club, for having us on this wonderful blog tour!