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Tiger Queen

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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.

320 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 10, 2019

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Annie Sullivan

15 books357 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 375 reviews
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
882 reviews760 followers
June 3, 2020
2.5 stars

Unfortunately, this was a huge miss for me.

Concept: ★★★★
Execution: ★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★

Tiger Queen was a story that I was incredibly excited to read given its description: A princess is tasked with proving her worth to her kingdom by fighting her potential suitors in a once-a-month arena battle in front of her kingdom. If she can beat 12 suitors in the year of her majority, she proves her worthiness.

What the synopsis doesn't describe: this seemingly warrior-woman story is completely surrounded in misogynistic male tropes. And it struggles from the lack of an #OwnVoices touch.

Princess Kateri is reaching the age of her majority, and it's time to prove her worth to her kingdom. Her father, the king, has brutally trained her and forced her to betray any sign of weakness in the name of strength. His new second in command, Rodric, is worse. She's been honed to a keen edge by a doctrine of hatred and steel, and is hell-bent on avenging the death of her mother at the hands of the kingdom's rebelling force, the Desert Boys.

The Desert Boys, and their leader, Cion, are are group of all boys who steal rationed water from the kingdom and bring it to their desert hideout to supposedly make the kingdom weaker. It's a blend of Peter Pan's Lost Boys and Robin Hood's "steal from the rich to feed the poor" narrative, and it's pretty easy to spot right away.

Kateri finds herself at the wrong end of Rodric's gaze when it is revealed he is her last suitor in the ring. In a very on-the-nose ploy, Rodric reveals that he has always wanted the throne to himself and he will never allow a weak GIRL (girl is emphasized here, not her actual strength) to rule. He's going to use her for heirs and then murder her. Nice. So Kateri runs away from the palace before this battle takes place, desperate for another way to claim her throne.

But where can she go in the desert, and who will help her topple the corruption in her kingdom?

Well, maybe the Desert Boys are more than what meets the eye...

I don't know, folks. I found Tiger Queen to be extremely predictable, and not in a way that I enjoyed. I'm willing to blame my extensive reading list of YA fantasies and the fact that I've read these tropes before, and often in better contexts, but...

It rubbed me the wrong way that Kateri was the only woman with any agency or sense of purpose in the entire narrative, and even her actions were continually reinforced/initiated/reactionary to the role of the men in the story. For a story that was supposedly about a woman warrior, it had a awful lot of male messages. And a lot of male-dominated plot points. Now this shouldn't have bothered me as a reader except for the fact that this story is touted as a feminist warrior narrative with the title of TIGER QUEEN. I felt a bit cheated by the cool lead-in.

Also, definitely don't read this novel for the tigers—as a girl who loves and respects tigers, I did NOT like that story arc.


Original notes: While Annie Sullivan's previous book A Touch of Gold was a miss for me, I'm looking forward to exploring this new world. It's also based on "The Lady, or the Tiger?" a short story by Roger Stockton (a favorite), and involves an arena/fighting concept that I am HERE for.

Thanks to Blink via NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Melanie (TBR and Beyond).
502 reviews359 followers
September 16, 2019
“I would be the desert’s justice, mightier than any tiger”

I’m so excited to be reviewing Annie’s sophomore novel Tiger Queen, and I can happily say that she did not fall prey to the sophomore curse with this one. It’s an exciting, unique and empowering fantasy novel that will easily leave readers swept up in it’s dessert setting.

I’ve been lucky enough to call Annie a friend (as many in the online book community have come to) since her debut novel A Touch of Gold was announced. She is such a sweet person and so great to her readers – I just adore her. This book means a lot to me because not only did Annie thank me in the acknowledgements of the book, but she thanked my entire TBR and Beyond team – how cool is that? I might have squealed a bit at that! It was such a lovely surprise.

Ok Melanie – stop gushing! Let’s get this review started already! Tiger Queen is a retelling of a famous short story, The Lady and the Tiger. The short story is one that is completely open ended and the readers are left to imagine – well the author has obviously thought about this story a lot and turned the story completely on its head and made her own unique take on what exactly happens after that short story ended. No, you don’t have to read the short story to go into Tiger Queen – the author sets everything up for you from beginning to end.

Our protagonist Princess Kateri is reaching the age where she must prove to her people and father that she is worthy enough to rule the kingdom when the time comes. To do this she will be tested, she must fight 12 suitors that have come to marry her (and take their spot ruling the kingdom), but if she can win all 12 battles then she not only wins the kingdom, but her right to make her own decisions. Her father, the King has been brutally training her since she was young, to be able to fight in these battles. He has shown her little compassion but Kateri still seeks nothing more than his acceptance and thinks she will finally get it if she can prove her worth in the battles.

On the other side, we have the Desert Boys lead by the charismatic Cion. They are considered thieves and rebels and a complete plague on the city, at least according to the palace. The city is in a massive drought and people are getting sicker and dying because of it. Cion and the boys have taking water from the palace wells for themselves and others – we have a little Robin Hood vibe going on here I think. The palace has been trying to track down the Desert Boys hideout without no results but that may all change.

I don’t want to go any further than that, you should read the book and let it unfold. From there we get lots of betrayal (lots!) – Kateri and Cion have to work together despite their feelings towards each other and a lot of hard choices have to be made. Guys, it gets pretty intense – there are even hungry freaking tigers!

I loved the characters in Tiger Queen. Kateri does start out very frustrating, I’m not going to lie. I wanted to slap her many times over in the beginning, but I promise she grows and evolves and I loved her to pieces by the end of it. Cion is a great male lead, loved his compassion, strength and, of course, banter. The world building is strong in this one, I feel like the author took the time to set everything up, so you could really imagine everything going on. Keep a drink of water close by – you will get thirsty! The battle scenes were epic and exciting. I loved the mythology that is woven into the story and build up at the end definitely paid of. Overall, I highly recommend checking this desert fantasy out. Also, it’s a standalone! We love a fantasy standalone from time to time!
Profile Image for Umairah (Sereadipity).
188 reviews108 followers
September 14, 2019
Tiger Queen was a thrilling desert tale about a woman fighting to improve the lives of her people and prove her own worth. It was a clever retelling of the short story, 'The Lady, Or The Tiger?' and I really enjoyed it!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 4/5

Kateri was the princess of Achra who was tasked with killing twelve of her suitors in arena fights to assert her right to be queen. However, when she realised that her final suitor was a man she wasn't skilled enough to beat, she fled to the desert to join her sworn enemies, the Desert Boys, to train and gain the necessary skills to win. She not only improved her fighting abilities but learnt so much about the state of her people and the type of queen they needed her to be.

I liked Kateri's sheer determination to succeed and how she was willing to put in the required work to achieve her goals. Throughout the book she went on a journey and realised that so many things she firmly believed in weren't as true as she once thought. I also loved the training montage trope and the various challenges she faced to improve her skills. The way Sullivan drew up parallels between Kateri and the caged tigers was very intriguing. Furthermore, I liked how her relationship with Cion slowly grew stronger and I think they make a good couple.

The word building in the book was excellent and I loved finding out about the various intricate and unique customs and traditions. I found all of the different legends, animals and places interesting as well. Nevertheless, I don't think the plot was gripping enough for me to give the book five stars but that wasn't a major hindrance to my enjoyment as the characters were good enough to almost make up for it.

Overall, I thought Tiger Queen was original, clever and exciting and is a must-read for those looking for new ideas in the YA fantasy genre.

Thank you to Blink for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Favourite quotes:
"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 where we can"

"We Desert Boys have a saying about tears... we say that crying is good, natural. It's returning the water you've taken from the earth"

"'You may not know how to stop, Kateri,' he said, 'but you sure know how to fly'"

"It's not weak to bear scars. It shows you were strong enough to survive."

"When life is as hard as it is out here, you celebrate as often as you can."

"Decision time... Is it the lady or the tiger?"
May 18, 2020
Desertathon 2020 🐫🌵 Prompt: Book w/red cover

Have I mentioned I looove desert fantasy??? There's just something so majestic and mesmerizing about a desert. I just can't get enough books with that as the backdrop📚 Feel free to drop any good recs in the comments!

Starting out I was sorta slumping and was a bit grumbly this didn't jump right into the action straightaway, but silly impatient/slumping me, it picked up a bit right after 😁

Kateri, our MC (and typical princess trope 👑), shows us how easily we can be swayed to one belief when someone omits important facts, rather than questioning & seeking the truth for ourselves 🙅 She shows how prejudice can be instilled by blind faith in corrupt rulers/influencers/parents even 👀 She's a flawed character. She's humanized on the pages by her actions and her words that are influenced by those around her 👄 And because of her being humanized we also get to see her natural growth as we progress through the story, as she adapts to the environment she finds herself in and discovers some hard truths 💔

I rooted for her the entire time, to fight, to overcome and triumph in the end! It was a fun ride among the sand dunes & Desert Boys. There's some very lovable & true characters in this story that you just immediately grow attached to 💗 Especially little Dimic 😊 And as stated above, some excellent character growth & plot.

Now that's not to say there weren't some obvious plot twists (which I've just come to expect in YA fantasy), but still...a girl can dream they'll be well hidden nestled in background of stealthy shadows & subplots 🙈 Oh well, maybe next time. Anyway...

The obvious "twists" are as follows: If you read enough YA fantasy it just all really becomes predictable and a bit stale. I still love scoping out the gems amongst them though💎 And I still really enjoyed this one, predictability aside. It's definitely got some good stuff in it and flowing writing that grabs you.

So this story is based off some short story about a tiger behind doors or something. Obviously I haven't read it 😶 But what I did takeaway from the story was loosely similarities to Peter Pan 😁 Peter Pan was always a favorite movie growing up, so maybe I'm seeing something unintentional, but who cares. I loved it 🙌

For instance: Cion is Peter Pan; the Desert Boys are really the Lost Boys just stick in a desert; Kateri becomes Wendy; and Rodric is the villain Captain Hook (he's really the one pulling strings). I just loved the similarities 😏

More recommendations -- it's an "enemies-to-lovers," it's a stand-alone (for those of us who struggle finishing series THIS is cause to celebrate 🎉), it's a well laid plot that's wrapped up satisfyingly, and the setting is superb!
December 2, 2019
Fresh and fiercely feminist, this reimagining of a classic short story delivered the sort of kickass warrior girl action I love to read about. Even better, it belongs to the rare breed of fantasy that takes place in an entirely fictional world but does not rely on magic to make itself unique. But before I get ahead of myself, there’s a bit of explaining I need to do:

I remember the first time I read “The Lady or the Tiger?” back in middle school. It was an interesting read, very short, but also very frustrating. What sort of author, I asked myself, writes a story without an ending?. (If you’ve already read the story, you can skip the next paragraph.)

For those of you who are not familiar with it, “The Lady or the Tiger?” is a short story about a semi-barbaric king whose system of justice is based around pure chance. Criminals are taken to an arena that has two doors. Behind one door is a beautiful maiden equal to the man’s station; behind the other is a tiger. The man does not know which door is which, but he has to pick one. If he picks the lady, then he is required to marry her. If he picks the tiger…well, it’s a bloody death. One day, the king discovers his daughter (who is also described as semi-barbaric) is having a romantic affair with a man from the palace, which of course is illegal because she’s the princess. The man is taken to the arena as punishment to choose his door. But here’s the twist: the princess is told which door has the lady and which door has the tiger. She knows she can signal to her lover which door to choose. But would she rather send him to a gruesome death? Or to marry another woman, knowing that it would forever mean he can’t be hers? She indicates a door to him. He opens it. And…that’s where the story ends.

At least it was fun to debate with fellow classmates which ending was more likely.

Anyway, I tell you this lengthy anecdote so you know roughly what this novel is riffing on. Fairytale retellings are in vogue right now, but Tiger Queen is based on a slightly lesser-told tale, and not so much a fairytale as a brief meditation on the strength and significance of human emotions.

After that lengthy intro, I’m going to keep this summary brief: if she wants to inherit her father’s kingdom, Princess Kateri must win a series of twelve gladiatorial arena battles. If she loses, the man she loses to will marry her and become king. The kingdom, formerly on an oasis in the middle of the desert, is suffering from a severe drought, made worse by the notorious Desert Boys, who steal more water from the wells than their ration tokens allow. The Desert Boys, led by a boy known as Cion whose swordsmanship is said to be unmatched, also killed Kateri’s mother and baby brother years ago. But when Kateri’s father chooses the despicable Rodric, a cruel and ruthless man—and Kateri’s own trainer—as her final opponent, she puts aside her disgust for the Desert Boys to seek Cion’s help training. Because beating Rodric might be impossible…but marrying him would be the worst fate imaginable.

I was largely a fan of this book, which should surprise nobody. There’s a slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers romance, which is executed incredibly well and is important without overpowering the main narrative, which is that of Kateri’s development. And oh, what great development she gets! At its heart, Kateri’s character arc is one about finding independence and overcoming prejudices. After spending her entire life cooped up in a palace, with very few friends and no real hobbies besides fighting and occasionally reading, Kateri starts the book very emotionally stunted and dependent on others. Her temper is so bad, it is almost embarrassing to read. And while she is skilled with a blade, she is not so adept at navigating social situations. Going out into the desert to join a band of boys she hates on principle, abandoning her life of luxury in hopes of earning her freedom? What better setup is there for her to reconceptualize her privilege and grow to understand what connection really means?

While Kateri herself was great, I also really enjoyed the Desert Boys. Cion is…not what you would expect. In the best way possible; I won’t say more than that. And little Dimic, the seven-year-old lockpick extraordinaire, is adorable and funny and generally just fantastic.

And the setting! Annie Sullivan has built a world complete with its own mythology, justice system (see the two-door choice in the story that inspired this novel), and wildlife, including cactuses that grow spontaneously out of the ground in a matter of seconds. Even the food is unique, consisting largely of snakes and scorpions and lizards and other desert-dwelling creatures. Because of the drought that the kingdom is stuck in, conditions are also oppressively hot and dry, with sand that blows everywhere, even inside of houses—even inside the palace. Not going to lie, I was constantly thinking of that Star Wars quote about sand, how it’s irritating and gets everywhere. And the rage of the people fighting for enough water just to survive comes across as a very natural reaction to such a threat to quality of life.

I only had three gripes, all of them quite small. The first was that not a lot of development is given to the bad guys in this book. I’m not going to explain who they are, because spoilers, but suffice to say we do find out why they do what they do, but only at the most basic level. We never see much expression of complexity from them. Of course, we are seeing them through Kateri’s eyes, which may contribute to that, but it would have been nice to know a little more about possible internal conflicts they may have had, knowing that their actions hurt some while benefiting others. The second is that the epilogue was really odd. I like that it tried to give some idea of the future of the kingdom after the novel’s events, but it felt like an afterthought, just a list of what changes occurred, without the same narrative sense and propulsive writing that filled all the previous pages. It might have been better to just cut it altogether, or replace it with an actual scene instead of basically a series of notes. And the third is…well…why are there no girls in the Desert Boys? Even though Kateri can one-up just about any of them, she is the only girl to actually be a part of the gang. I wonder if some of this has to do with familial expectations for girls versus boys, or something along those lines, but it was a little irritating to see, because there was no good reason for it.

So, while it does have a few small flaws, Tiger Queen was a largely enjoyable read, and I’m rounding a 4.5-star rating up to 5 for Goodreads purposes. Unlike many YA novels today, it isn’t bloated with unnecessary scenes, so it goes quickly and doesn’t drag. Kateri is my favorite sort of female lead, strong both physically and mentally, still figuring herself out but not willing to let anyone make her choices for her. And just like the tigers in the arena, she is hungry—for justice, and for freedom. If you like strong female leads, and even if you don’t usually like fantasy, I would definitely recommend you give this one a go!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen.
1,681 reviews595 followers
April 9, 2019
Book – Tiger Queen
Author – Annie Sullivan
Series – Stand-Alone
Cliffhanger? - NO
Publication Date – September 10, 2019
Genre – Fantasy/Retelling
Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Complimentary copy generously provided by the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts - Story

I had no idea this was based on the story “The Lady, or the Tiger” before I requested this book to review.

I instantly fell in love with the story and love when a heroine presents herself as a “bad guy” but then through circumstances and secrets reveled, she changes her ways to make everything right. I do have to admit though, Kateri had a lot of growing up to do both mentally and psychologically. She was very black and white without seeing the gray or diving into her psyche to see what was important in life. That is where Cion comes into the picture through much patience, he teaches her through actions what a good leader and person is.

The world building was spectacular where I could imagine myself in the arena waiting to see whether the tiger or freedom would be chosen…breath held – anticipation growing.

This book definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and I can’t wait to read more from this author!

****And….the best part….NO CLIFFHANGER!!****

Reason for Reading – Requested from NetGalley
Story – 5 out of 5 Stars
Romance – 4 out of 5 Stars
Angst – 4 out of 5 Stars
Writing – 5 out of 5 Stars
Content Flow – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Would Read More from Author? Definitely
Recommend To – Desert Fantasy lovers
Profile Image for Amanda .
432 reviews151 followers
August 29, 2019
You can also read my review here:https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....

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.

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.

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.

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.
Profile Image for Empress Reece (Hooked on Books).
915 reviews78 followers
June 18, 2019
This is the first standalone YA fantasy I've read in a long time. It was nice not having a huge cliffhanger at the end, although, I would love to revisit the Kingdom of Achra in a future installment. I really liked the characters, Cion, Princess Kateri and the Desert Boys. They made you want to root for their survival and bring them some water.: ) I enjoyed the desert setting and the world building too. I felt like I could feel the unforgiving sand and the nagging thirst right along with them.

*I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Profile Image for ʙᴇʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。..
199 reviews98 followers
April 2, 2019
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)

Tiger Queen presents Kateri, a Princess of Kingdom Achra surrounded by a Desert. Kateri yearns to become the best Warrior in her Kingdom, not just because she desperately seeks her Father's approval, but also because she wants to become the ruler and by consequence, to be free to make her own choices. To do that she has no choice but to fight in the arena.
Kateri wins against almost all of her opponents in the arena, but the last one is someone who is a much skilled, stronger fighter than her, so she has no choice but to ask for help to someone she did not want to. There's also an issue going on with the Desert Boys, a group of outcasts, and children that steal water from the wells and the punishment by law is death by the tigers that the King owns.
To end her last combat she will do everything, even if it means to get to know her enemies. So it begins a journey that will inevitably change her perceptions and beliefs.

I really liked Kateri: she was strong, not just in fighting skills but also, strong-willed, with a strong mind.
I enjoyed the mythical world and the wonderful Desert descriptions. I never had heard about the Lady and the Tiger and I was glad the author did a retelling, otherwise, I would have perhaps never known anything about it.

However, everything else, every character but Kateri was underdeveloped. Villains were predictable and "villainized" to the core, nothing they did surprise me. It disappointed me the overused villain tropes.
Not one single twist in the whole plot that would keep me guessing. From early in the book you already know who are the villains and how they will act. You already know who are the friends and foes and the "secrets".
I'm a sucker for complex characters so it disappointed me a bit. The fighting scenes were written particularly well and Kateri was a good character. The author has a really clear, flowing writing style.
The mythology/traditions/culture/animals the author created was really nice (except for the gross Desert food).
The romance contains one of my absolute favorite tropes and it was sweet, clean and slow-burn which I appreciated....but it suffered from misunderstandings.
Cion was a bit of a contradiction: he was supposed to be the "best of all fighters" and yet he wasn't??? Anyway, I enjoyed watching Kateri's evolution from the beginning to the end.
So, in conclusion, Tiger Queen was an okay read for me. It was enjoyable but not amazing.
I'd recommend this for those who enjoy Asian-Inspired Fantasies with cute romance.
Profile Image for mads.
317 reviews340 followers
May 17, 2020
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Have you seen the movie 'Hook'? Okay, so imagine that it took place in the desert and Captain Hook had a daughter that he was going to force to marry an even worse version of Desert Captain Hook, so his daughter runs away to the Desert Lost Boys and falls in love with Off-Brand Desert Peter Pan before returning to take her rightful place as Desert Pirate Princess. If that made any sense at all, that's basically the entire book.

So... yeah... there's that.

I didn't *hate* this, but I didn't enjoy it either. Part of that - which I don't blame the book for - is because it wasn't what I was expecting (I had more of an arena, bachelor+Hunger Games, adventure, coming-of-age story in mind), and the other part is due to problems with the story. It started off strong with Princess Kateri about to face her second to last suitor in the arena, setting the tone of the story quite quickly. However, things went downhill fast.

My main qualm was with our main character. On the surface, Kateri is everything a YA heroine should be. A strong, fierce girl willing to learn from her mistakes and the mistakes of those that came before her. However, that's simply on the surface. We are told constantly that Kateri has been trained since childhood to be a warrior, with emphasis on the amount of self control she's meant to have. And then, the second she finds out information that is unpleasant, she throws a tantrum complete with yelling at her undeserving servant and tearing apart her closet.

Don't get me started on the fact the main antagonist, that's supposed to be extremely threatening, discusses his evil plans under the pRINCESS' WINDOW. Like... what. the. heck.

This book was also pitched as feminist, which is hilarious. Other than a midwife aunt that is on page for five seconds, there are only two female characters and guess what? They both hate each other! Who coulda guessed? *sigh* There's also the problem with Kateri hating the idea of marriage, seeing engagement bracelets as 'shackles', and then! Once she falls in love, she thinks 'huh, love is a chain! a chain that connects us to the ones we love'. Please tell me I'm not the only one that sees a problem here? The author meant well, that much is clear, but she definitely missed the mark on this aspect.

Tie all of that up with a plot that is filled with conveniences and so. many. tropes., it let me down. I know I sound like I hated this book, and that isn't the case. I won't lie and say I enjoyed it, because I didn't, but I can see why people would. Especially if someone was just getting into YA and wasn't used to all of the over-used plot devices and tropes the story used.

I still want to try some of the author's other works, this one just missed the mark for me, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
948 reviews769 followers
Want to read
November 5, 2018
...Princess Kateri as she fights suitors in an arena to win the right to rule her desert kingdom...

Well this is a fun twist
Profile Image for micolreads.
287 reviews25 followers
February 8, 2021
This book was a big disappointment. No characters depth, no plot, nothing original. Sorry, but this was not a good book.
Profile Image for Brooke.
211 reviews24 followers
July 26, 2019
Princess Kateri’s kingdom is suffering from a drought, and with water scarce, people who steal water are punished by being forced to choose between two doors: behind one is freedom, behind the other is a tiger. Kateri will not automatically inherit the kingdom from her father, the King; she must fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. But when her final contestant is announced, she knows she will lose and seeks help from the last person she’d expect.

This story was a retellings of ‘The Lady, or the Tiger’, and while I’ve not read it, I have loosely heard of the storyline (ironically from a book I read last month).

Let’s talk characters. For the most part, the character development was a bit lacking and villains were bland and simple. The two main villains were predictably typical which was a bit disappointing; “You can’t see light without darkness”, so a protagonists’ character suffers when the villain is mediocre. BUT, I did love the Desert Boys. Their closeness, loyalty to each other, and playful nature reminded me so much of the lost boys and it was by far my favorite part of the story.

The ‘Tiger’ part of the book (wherein criminals choose between two doors, one containing a tiger) was amazing! It offered a different and exciting element to this YA book that definitely sucked me in. Although I do wish there were some more instances of this as well as bloody outcomes. What can I say? I like a little gore…

As far as the fighting goes (and there’s a good bit of it), Cion and Rodric were supposed to be the greatest fighters, and Kateri not far behind, but I was left a little underwhelmed by their abilities… That being said, the action/fighting scenes were well written, intense, and pretty badass!

The romance was bearable, but towards the end it looked like it was going in a certain direction which ended up not happening. I wish that that it had gone in that perceived direction, but it may just be a personal preference. This book was a fun desert adventure and I’m glad I read it, but left me a little underwhelmed as a whole.
Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,144 reviews243 followers
August 28, 2019
I received an ARC from the author

It's like The Valiant had a baby with Aladdin but Jasmine becomes the street rat kinda...

This was really cool and honestly a little darker than I was expecting. I am really impressed with how well the battle/combat scenes at the end were written. Only complaint was the epilogue seemed very short and rushed and it just confirmed things I assumed would happen. Also don't think the romance was needed (I feel like I'm saying this on repeat now but don't just add a romance because).

Now I need to go reread the original short story
Profile Image for Amber (The Book Bratz).
500 reviews57 followers
June 21, 2019
The full review + more can be found at The Book Bratz

Thank you Blink for sending me a copy of TIGER QUEEN in the mail in exchange for an honest review!

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!
July 18, 2019
This shouldn't be too spoilery since we learn a lot in the beginning of the book.  I did not include any major spoilers. 

I loved A Touch of Gold, but I loved Tiger Queen even more!  My only complaint (besides a food thing I'll mention below) is that I want more from this world.

Kateri has spent her whole life living in Achra.  After her mother and sibling died, Kateri's father began preparing her to lead.  She was told about the history of Achra and how the desert chose the first leader.   Achra has been plagued by a drought that started before Kateri was born.  She doesn't know any different.  Her father restricts water, but not so much for his home.  Kateri is never hungry or thirsty.  She even takes baths.  Because she was taught to fight and also to hate, Kateri is pretty oblivious to what is going on in Achra.  She knows what she is told and she is angry.

The king is never afraid to tell the people of Achra that The Desert Boys are stealing the water and drying up the wells.  They killed the queen and her newborn son.  They are to blame for everything wrong.  So when a desert boy is captured, he is put on display in the arena to chose a door.  Behind one door is freedom and behind the other is a hungry tiger ready to kill them.  Kateri cheers this on.  She wants revenge for the one person who really loved her, the queen.  The Desert Boys are led by a young man named Cion that was said to be the best fighter alive.  He is talked about so much that Kateri questions if he's really a real person.  That is until she meets him by a well while the Desert Boys were on a raid.  

Kateri has to battle every month leading up until her 17th birthday.  If she loses, she has to marry the winner and he becomes the ruler.  If she wins, she will rule.  Her trainer is Rodric, a hateful man that her father adores.  Rodic is bad.  We learn this very quickly.  There is a lot more to him that comes out later in the book, so I won't ruin that for anyone.  

Kateri's father makes a choice that she doesn't agree with.  She needs to flee in order to get the help she needs.  And that help is found with Cion and the Desert Boys.  Kateri is reluctantly taken in by them and trained by Cion.  She starts to learn more about the Achra outside her walls.  There are secrets that come out and Kateri wonders if anything in her life was the truth.  She has to make some big decisions on what she believes is right.

I guessed right away that there would be a enemy to lovers relationship in the book and that is my favorite.  There is not much romance though.  It's more about the strange feelings Kateri has for Cion.  She also found a family in the Desert Boys (and I love found family stories).  

I loved everything that took place in the desert.�� The boys, especially Cion (swoon) and Dimic.  I loved the dangers and the training.  I loved how Cion knew how to use the sand to his advantage.  And I loved how the "boys" took care of each other as family.  Kateri was used to a king that only looked out for himself first and then a handful of others.  He ruled with fear while Cion ruled with love. 

"In this desert, we all have to take care of each other."

I can't really get into anything else without ruining the story.  I will add that the food was hard for me to read as a lizard breeder.  They eat lizards, snakes, and scorpions.  So be prepared for that.  I also struggled with the half starved tigers being held captive.  Anything with animals being mistreated makes me sad.  

Warnings:  Captivity, not enough food or water that ends up killing people, abuse, mention of sex without consent, deaths including children and a baby, torture (kind of), abuse/captivity of animals, forced marriage.  I feel like there might be more that I'm forgetting.

I gave this book 5 stars.  Thank you to Blink and Edelweiss for my review copy.  This will end up on my favorites of the year list. 

Profile Image for Sammy.
279 reviews20 followers
August 6, 2019
I really liked this story. I think it takes on a lot of issues including abusive family, poverty, and privilege in a well written way. Having not read the short story this book was based off of, it feels original and fun. I enjoyed the roller coaster ride it put me on! Would definitely recommend ☺️
Profile Image for Megan.
216 reviews44 followers
July 5, 2020
This story captivated me from the first page! “Tiger Queen” by Annie Sullivan has an “Aladdin” feel to it, with a “Mulan-like” heroine; yet it manages to be its own unique, amazing story!

Ms. Sullivan’s book is a retelling of a short story by Frank Stockton called “The Lady or the Tiger?” In “Tiger Queen,” Princess Kateri realizes that there’s a whole new world outside of her palace; one where it’s not all about her. And the things she thought she knew and believed are challenged. She finds that sometimes being the strongest isn’t about physical strength or control. Instead, being kind and forgiving, caring for the people and being their voice are where true strength lies. She learns that she needs others in order to succeed herself. There are so many wonderful lessons this story imparts as Kateri grows and matures throughout the book, often with the help of the infamous Desert Boys. But will she have learned enough to fight her biggest battle and win? Will she be able to become the Queen her kingdom needs?

“Tiger Queen” is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far and I cannot recommend it enough!

Content: This is a clean read with a PG rating for descriptions of battle and violence.

Rating: I give this book all the stars! 5 stars!

I want to thank Annie Sullivan, Blink, The Fantastic Flying Book Club and NetGalley for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
Profile Image for Brenda Drake.
Author 12 books856 followers
April 4, 2019
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I loved this twist on the short story "The Lady or the Tiger." Princess Kateri is such an all-around strong character. The fight scenes were amazing and had me on the edge. I especially liked the close bonds Kateri had to her family and people and her willingness to make great sacrifices for them. The desert setting comes to life with Sullivan's wonderful storytelling skills. And Cion, I have no words other than he grabbed my heart. This fast-paced adventure will have you thirsting for more!
Profile Image for Christi M.
345 reviews55 followers
September 7, 2019
When I first read the description I honestly wasn’t so sure about reading a YA fantasy book written where the whole story is set in the desert. With an ongoing drought the kingdom, Achra, has a serious water shortage, meaning there was a whole population in a desperate situation with little hope. People slowly dying of thirst didn’t sound like a fun read. But then I reread the description and thought ‘you know…this one might be good.’ And I was right!

The Tiger Queen opens in the arena. A Desert Boy had been caught smuggling contraband goods into the city. The Desert Boys are infamous because they steal the water from the city, exacerbating an already tenuous situation due to the drought. These boys live out in the desert where no one can survive and the guards have difficulty finding them so they are rarely caught. They also killed Kateri’s mother and baby brother years prior. Within these opening scenes we are quickly introduced to everything at stake: the Desert Boys, the King and his daughter Kateri, and Rodric the captain of the guards. But here we also learn about the underlying tensions and plots – water stealing and then rationing due to the stealing, motives for Kateri’s anger and distrust of the Desert Boys, and the dangers the arena and the desert can bring. Not only is there a lack of water, but the arena holds two very hungry tigers and the desert holds even more dangers, such as sand snakes and scorpions.

To be honest, the middle section is where I will always worry about in a book. Does it keep my interest? Do the secrets get told early enough to where I am not frustrated by lack of knowledge? Is there enough in the plot to ensure it doesn’t feel like it is just filler section? Thankfully, the middle in the Tiger Queen is where the 2nd part of the story begins. The plot and the pacing kept a steady rhythm as Kateri leaves the safety of he city and is introduced to the real desert as well as the Desert Boys and their leader, Cion. Here she requests their training so she can defeat the opponent she was assigned to fight, but first she has to convince them to help her and that she’s not there to betray them.

I truly don’t want to give away too much of the plot. But, I was intrigued by two aspects. First, how little can one human drink each day and still survive? I take water for granted – somewhat. I know we should conserve it as best we can, but I also know that it is always at my fingertips at the press of a button or turn of a handle. But I was equally interested in how much thought I gave the issue of how one goes about controlling an entire population – especially in the desert. And more importantly – why would you want to do that? It makes no sense to me. The lies one would tell to hold onto power often overwhelm my sense of understanding.

This book was a fun read and I loved how time flew by when reading it. It is also a stand-alone fantasy book. Those aren’t easy to find, but you definitely leave feeling that everything is taken care of at the end as the author provides a few ‘where are they now’ moments. Definitely recommend this to those who looking for a YA fantasy adventure and perhaps a hint of romance.

Rating: 5 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Blink for the advanced reader copy and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I also want to thank the author for speaking on behalf of the Oxford comma in the Acknowledgment section. It gave me the opportunity to show someone who isn’t quite the believer in that comma and argue my point on why it should be used.
Profile Image for Morgan.
135 reviews143 followers
May 27, 2020
Tiger Queen by Annie Sulivan is inspired by Frank Stockton’s short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?” My first experience with the story was in English 11 where my enthusiastic teacher was trying his hardest to get the class discussion on the ending started. I, who rather enjoyed analyzing the story and making an assumption on the final outcome offered my opinion that the tiger came out of the door, not the lady.

After giving my original thoughts my teacher began his response to my analysis of the short story when a rather quiet kid sitting in the corner of the class stood up out of his desk and yelled something along the lines of ‘how could you possibly think it was the tiger!?’ I sat there for a second slightly shocked that I just got yelled at in front of the whole class, who are now all reinvigorated by the excitement, by a peer; this gave my peer - who is still standing - the needed time to go on a long, passionate lecture about how horribly wrong I was with optimal evidence.

I considered his thoughts then proceed to reiterate my evidence behind my opinion, when he yelled, even louder and more passionately, ‘WHERE IS YOUR EVIDENCE’ - now I’m getting irritated because I don’t like being yelled at (who does, really?) and I respond ‘THE SAME AS YOURS - WE LITERALLY READ THE SAME STORY’ which, with the help of my teacher who loved seeing his student talk about literature but didn’t want a noise complaint, killed the flame igniting my fellow classmates passion for the argument.

‘WHERE IS YOUR EVIDENCE’ became a joke that my friends often said to me when I expressed my opinion. I never really had a complete conversation with this peer again but the following year I had Ap government and politics with him where I discovered literature is not the only thing he is opinionated and passionate about.

Now when I saw Tiger Queen was a retelling of Frank Stockton’s work I instantly became excited because I really do enjoy the story but I was hoping that this experience would be better than my first - but, I had my doubts. I’ll be honest, I was expecting Tiger Queen to air along the lines of a stereotypical ya so my expectations were pretty low when I began. And y’all what a mistake that was because this was amazing.

So what does Tiger Queen entail?

Tiger Queen follows Kateri on her quest to fulfill her mother’s wish, and become a queen that advocates for the people who are struggling to survive through a drought that has ravaged the kingdom of Achra for years, trapping the citizens within the sandstone walls of the city and causing the monarchy to impose water rations and laws defining how many children each many can have.
Kateri has been training her whole life for the monthly battles against her prospect suitors for the year leading up to her seventeenth birthday in which if she is successful in all battles, Kateri will become the queen of Achra. But, if she fails, Kateri will become a dutiful wife to the suitor she lost to. Kateri has won 11 out of the 12 battles and she is so close to becoming queen she could brush the crown with her fingertips - but then Kateri’s hope of becoming queen is snatched away when she is told that her final battle will be against the person who has been teaching her everything she knows about fighting - and the one person she has never beat - Rodric. Kateri knows that she won’t learn the skills she needs to defeat Rodric on her own so she makes the decision to go against everything she has stood for and request help from the Desert Boys.

To begin, Kateri had an impressive character arc given the page count. At the beginning of Tiger Queen I was not a fan, I found Kateri to be very aggressive and not very smart. I didn’t understand how she was apprehensive then shocked that Rodric was her final suitor when her father warned her beforehand? She also claimed she was fighting for her people when her action didn’t mirror that. But as the story continued Kateri realized her ignorance and selfishness and learned from her misconceptions to better herself. The biggest moment that showed her gained maturity was when she“discovered that Cion was in a “relationship” and her response to it.

“I’d been stupid for mistaking kindness for affection, but I guess when you’re not used to either, it’s easy to mistake the two”

In the end, Kateri wanted Cion to be happy despite that not necessarily meaning he would be with her. Which is the opposite of what happened in the original “The Lady or the Tiger?” in my personal opinion. Other events throughout the story like Kateri removing her cuff, Kateri trusting the Desert Boys, finding out the truth of her father, and the epilogue also helped show her growth.

But from other reviews, I read that Tiger Queen was described as a feminist story which I think leads to the biggest disappointment. Tiger Queen is far from what I would describe as ‘feminism’ in ya book. Kateri is the only prominent female character and her relationship with the other females in the book is what I would describe as wary and tense. So definitely not feministic. But without this knowledge prior to reading, I believe the book was much more enjoyable.

I also loved how much the Desert boys reminded me of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. There’s no way Annie Sullivan wasn’t inspired by the Lost Boys but I always enjoy found-families and camaraderie in a book.

"We Desert Boys have a saying about tears... we say that crying is good, natural. It's returning the water you've taken from the earth"

But that being said, I did have a few gripes with Tiger Queen.

First, I believe that the characters were poorly described. Yes, I had an image in my head of what all the characters looked like but I had no idea if it was accurate. I know that Cion had longer hair and dimples; Rodric was muscular; Kateri wore a cuff to cover her scar on her neck and was also muscular, and I got the impression that they all had a darker skin tone due to living in the desert, but I felt that we need more descriptions of all the characters.
I also felt like Dimic didn’t act his age; he was described to look 8 or 9 but he talked and acted as more of an 11 or 12-year-old and I found having to remind myself of Dimic’s age.

I also feel as though Tiger Queen lacked depth. Each “reveals” individual delivery seemed misplaced and rushed. For example, when Cion told Kateri the truth about her mother’s death, it was thrown in conversation rather suddenly and it felt like an odd, forced connection between the two characters. The only reveal that surprised me was Cion saying he thought of Latia as a sister because Annie Sullivan really had me sold that she was going to take the story in a completely different route than most ya books and have the protagonist not be involved in a romantic relationship - which would’ve been a nice change.

I also wish there was more ruthlessness in the story; we are told how deadly the tigers are but not shown, perhaps before Dimic entered the area there was another prisoner who would’ve met his untimely end to the tigers in the area to show us how dangerous the tigers actually are. We only see the tigers in action towards the end of Tiger Queen in a way that was rather lackluster for their first impression in Frank Stockton’s work.

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised by Tiger Queen. Though I wish we had better descriptions of the characters, and more depth and ruthlessness, I found the characters personalities enjoyable to read and the plot enticing and very well-paced. I would recommend Tiger Queen to anyone who wants to read a fast standalone or who enjoyed Frank Stockton’s original work “The Lady or the Tiger?”
Profile Image for Selina Gonzalez.
Author 9 books126 followers
March 2, 2020
I really enjoyed this! It's clean, fun, has an adorable romance, a satisfying ending, interesting characters, and some lovely quotes. There's some good action scenes and some great tension. I loved Kateri and her struggles as she tries to figure out who she is and what to do and finds her own kind of strength that isn't cruel. Overall, I just really enjoyed this book!

I did think it was fairly predictable, especially the first three quarters. Like, duh that's what's been happening, obviously so and so IS such and such, clearly this will happen, I called that's what was going on a hundred pages ago...but being able to guess what would happen didn't really diminish my enjoyment. And some of the stuff leading up to and in the climax I didn't predict.

I have some minor qualms--some confusion over how old Rodric and Cion are, for example (some timeline stuff in general was slightly confusing), or the fact that the desert is soooooo dangerous except they constantly walk around it with no close calls. I literally cannot picture Cion's sword or figure out how it could possibly be well balanced or actually be useful. Rodric in general felt slightly caricature-ish.

It's "fantasy" but more like...historical magical realism? IDK. There's a hint of maybe some actual "desert chooses" mysticism or something, and then lots of throwing around names made up creatures with little to no explanation, most of which are never seen.

Even with those concessions, though, I think this book broke my reading slump, so--recommend!
Profile Image for The Reading Raccoon.
765 reviews105 followers
February 6, 2020
Thank you to the publisher Blink and NetGalley for this review copy of Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan.

I love a good standalone fantasy novel and I was really looking forward to reading Tiger Queen. This turned out to be an amazing re-telling of The Lady, or the Tiger. Not being familiar with that tale kept the story fresh and new in a genre crowded with Beauty and the Beast and other European fairy tale retellings.

I appreciated the detail Annie Sullivan put into building this sand swept world and the character of Kateri. She goes through some realistic and gradual changes from Princess to Warrior to rebel. There is also a slow burn “clean” romance.
I highly recommend this book to YA fantasy fans of all ages.
September 6, 2019
Full blog tour post for Fantastic Flying Book Club on my blog Sometimes Leelynn Reads with a playlist and dream cast because those are hella fun, okay?

Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Netgalley, Fantastic Flying Book Club, and BLINK for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.

Murder, Violence, Death, Betrayal

None explicit

Okay, seriously when I found out that I got approved for this on Netgalley, I was freaked out. Then when I found out I was going to be on this blog tour, I double freaked out. I’ve been so excited to support Annie Sullivan after seeing her on TBR and Beyond, and just experiencing the kind of person she is. And the premise of this story was so intriguing to me, that I couldn’t resist!

Kateri is the princess of Achra. She is the only daughter to the king, and from the moment that her mother and brother were murdered, she has done nothing but train to be the very best fighter in Achra. She has to, if she expects to be able to be free from having to marry the victor. So far, she’s won every single battle against her would-be suitors. She’s strong minded, and hasn’t had a moment to be a kid in the 10 years since her life was uprooted.

Cion is the legendary leader of the Desert Boys, a group that causes havoc by stealing water from the kingdom and making everyone’s lives miserable. At first, Kateri thinks that he is to blame for the drought since he is the leader of the Desert Boys. She also doesn’t trust him when he agrees to train her in order to defeat Rodric, but after spending time with him and the rest of the Desert Boys, its clear that he is just a boy that is trying to protect those that can’t defend themselves. He would make a benevolent leader, and I think he’s one of my favorite people in the world.

Dimic is the boy that was in the arena in the beginning of the novel. At first, Kateri wanted him to die for being a part of the Desert Boys, the group that was responsible for killing her mother and baby brother, despite him not being alive by then. But he ends up saving her from the guards out to capture and enslave her, and she comes to find out that he is actually Cion’s little brother. He possesses a prowess in his movements, and it’s obvious that the desert has made him grow up sooner than a lot of children.

Rodric is Kateri’s father’s new guard captain, and his origins are unknown. His entrance into Achra was him killing the king’s old captain, saying that if his captain was that easy to kill, then he needs a new one. He’s cruel to Kateri, constantly ridiculing her during their training and never letting up for a moment. His cruelty may run deeper than Kateri ever realized, and with the King wanting Rodric to take over the throne, he may show his true colors to the people of Achra even more.

Achra has been going through a major drought since before Kateria was born. The people seem to think that it is testament to the weakness of their ruler. Kateri is determined to prove herself worthy to rule her people – by battling twelve suitors and winning them all before her 18th birthday – in order to be her own woman and free. Not only this, but she has promised to avenge her mother and brother by defeating the Desert Boys, the group that has been blamed for their death from the very beginning. The King has made it so the people of Achra see the Desert Boys as a common enemy, while they go thirsty and die all around them.

When Kateri finds out that her father plans for her to battle Rodric for her final battle before freedom, claiming that she has disgraced him by getting injured during her previous battle and that she isn’t strong enough to be the Queen, she ends up running away to the desert to seek out Cion. He’s the only one that seems to be able to train her in a way that will defeat Rodric, especially since he has been training her this entire time.

She soon discovers that not everything in her kingdom is as it seems, and she must decide her own fate, and the fate of the rest of her people in Achra if she is to reclaim her throne and her freedom.

The world building is pretty interesting. Having to go through a drought for seventeen years – longer even because it was since before Kateri was born – but somehow being able to survive takes a lot of resourcefulness. I don’t think I could do it, but the people of Achra do. That’s one of the things that Kateri will constantly comment on, how Achrans are survivors, and despite all of their hardships, they still figure out a way to make do. They shouldn’t have to, but when your King tells you that there’s not enough water for everyone, and each family is forced to only receive half a bucket of water a day, what else can you do?

Cion was right. The desert was a living, breathing creature. And it was vicious. ~ First day of training

Cion is one of the most… awe inspiring and selfless characters that I’ve ever met. I’m actually kind of surprised at how much I like him, when I usually don’t go for the good guys. Knowing that he has literally sacrificed his life and freedom for not only his family but others as well, shows to me that he knows what it means to be a true leader, not the way Kateri’s father is. He’s also patient with Kateri during their training, and teaches her how to trust again.

The fact that she can’t even be her own person until she proves her prowess in battle against twelve opponents bothers me. Kateri says more than once that after these battles, she will be free. Which tells me that she is no more her own person than her maid Lavia is. I get that some kingdoms have to somehow make sure that their lineage continues, but why does she have to literally beat all these men in combat to prove herself? She’s already the princess.

Oh I also hate that the people of Achra literally attack Kateri every time she has to walk the streets to or from the palace. Despite having guards around to protect her, she gets her hair torn out, her dress torn, spit on, just the works. She’s their princess, and while she thinks she’s doing what she can to be the best would-be Queen that she could be, they don’t give her that chance. She wasn’t the one responsible for the drought, but they punish her, and nobody does anything to stop it. I just hate how much abuse she gets, and it’s somehow okay. She knows that they are just taking out their frustration on her, but it physically hurts to see her go through that every single time.

“They stop crying once they realize no one will answer them.”

“… 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.” ~ Kateri’s Mother during Labor


Just that whole passage really stuck with me, because I never really think about what kind of strength I want to have, or what else constitutes as strength besides the physical aspect of it.

I’d never really thought about what happened to my suitors after I’d beaten them. I knew they were exiled, and somewhere deep down I knew the desert would kill them. Finally having to face it made it real. And I could see what made me a monster in the eyes of the Desert Boys. ~ Kateri in the Cave

I think her realization that… she really wasn’t as innocent as she believed was a really good start to character development on Sullivan’s effort. Kateri really had to be pushed out of the comfort of her palace to see that she wasn’t anyone’s natural savior, and that while her intentions were good to her, they didn’t come off that way to a lot of other people.

She battled eleven suitors, ten of which was before the book started. We only get to witness this one being exiled after she defeated him, leaving his two daughters behind. What about the rest of them? Were they able to be saved by the Desert Boys, when their only crime was losing to Kateri in a battle of swords and skill? When she was able to come home and be relieved that she didn’t have to marry them, did she ever stop to think that they would never see their families again, and would have to suffer at the hands of the desert itself? Cruel and unyielding to anyone that dares to conquer it? I don’t think so. Not until this moment. And I feel like this was the moment that things started to change for her.

The idea that those in control – whether a King, a President, a Dictator – would keep their people suffering in order to maintain their power is a theme that has always made me angry.

“Where were you when Rodric enacted stricter punishments for anyone caught stealing water each time the water levels dropped? Where were you when more sickness could be found in the city than sand? Where were you when the poor and elderly needed help rebuilding their walls after the sandstorms finally blew them in? Where was your ‘care’ when we were cast out because of your father’s two-child rule? Where were you when we became orphans and had no other choice but to steal to survive?” ~ Cion to Kateri in the Hideout

Do you know how much my heart ached reading this line? Even though this is a work of fiction, things like this happen every single day and I’ve been privileged enough to never experience it because of where I live. I couldn’t imagine anyone going through this, and Cion had a point. Kateri thought that she was doing what she could to gain her spot on the throne so she could help, but why didn’t she do anything before then? Literally, where was she when everything was happening?

I have so many emotions about this novel that I didn’t think I would when I first started reading it. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much emotion writing out a review or wanting to make sure that my thoughts were cohesive before this one. And it’s interesting because I didn’t think that I could think that way about a fantasy novel no less. I mean, it’s not a contemporary novel that matches our political climate today, but it still awoke a kind of anger in me for what happened in this novel that I had to just let it out. I think Sullivan did a great job with this novel.

Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 6 books76 followers
September 26, 2019
Thank you to NetGalley, Annie Sullivan, and Blink (publisher) for the opportunity to read Tiger Queen in exchange for an honest review.

One of the draws for me was the phrase “Fans of…Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling.” As some may know, Meagan Spooner has done two retellings that feature a strong female character (Hunted, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and Sherwood, a Robin Hood retelling). This is a retelling of a short story called “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton. The influence from the short story into this novel is very apparent, and boy does the concept turn into a beautifully fleshed out novel!

Kateri, Princess of Achra, wants nothing more than to rule when her time comes and take care of her people. A drought has been affecting the citizens of Achra since before she was born, and the people suffer and die every day from lack of water. The water is rationed very carefully. Keteri watches those who break the law find judgment in her father’s area. There are two doors, one with a tiger behind, one without, and the choice of the criminal will determine his (or her) fate (similar to the short story). Kateri has seen enough judgment from the tigers. Her father adores the beasts, yet she has feared them ever since he forced her into their proximity as a child.

In order for Kateri to take the throne, she must also be deemed worthy by the desert itself. To prove her worth as ruler, she must fight a noble suitor in the area every month for twelve months until her sixteenth birthday. If someone vanquishes her, they get to take her as a bride and rule, but if she wins, she rules and has a choice on how to rule. When her father gets closer and closer to Rodric, a man who came from the desert, killed the captain of the guard, and proved himself worthy to become the new captain, Kateri starts to wonder if her father is a justified ruler. When Rodric is announced as Kateri’s last opponent, she knows she will lose, so she runs away to find Cion, the leader of the Desert Boys, to help her train so she may beat Rodric and bring her people water and happy lives.

The Desert Boys are seen by the people as a band of murderers and thieves who take water or kill for their needs. Rumor has it the Desert Boys killed the Queen, Kateri’s mother, and her infant sibling. Cion agrees to train Kateri in order for her to beat Rodric, with the agreement that the Desert Boys will have enough water rationed to them, as well as justice, for they are not what they are said to be. When Kateri helps the Desert Boys and gets to know them, she sees a side of them she never thought possible after the murder of her mother and sibling, but Cion reveals some shocking information not only about the death of her family members, but also about the control of the water. Kateri begins to question her father and already despises Rodric, and as the Princess, she must find a way to win in the arena to save the people of Archa, the Desert Boys, and herself from a most despicable fate.

A great deal of imagery reminds me of both Aladdin (Kateri running from the city, desert setting, fancy palace) and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (the Desert Boys). I like the characters and the plot and find taking an idea from a short story and shaping it into such a lush novel is amazing. While I enjoyed the plot, it felt rather familiar, like I’ve read this book before, yet I haven’t.

The ending was mostly what I expected and it was rather satisfying. Overall, a great stand-alone novel with a strong female lead that I would recommend for teens.
Profile Image for Caroline.
138 reviews29 followers
September 13, 2019
This book was just such a fun and exciting read. It give me slight Aladdin vibes and it just worked so well!

I devoured this book is less then two days and after I finished, I was immediately sad it was over.

I loved how powerful and independent our main character, Kateri, was, and how she handled herself around everyone at the palace.

It's not often that you read a book set in a desert, and it's probably because it's not very descriptive to write just about a desert, but Sullivan pulled it off beautifully and somehow managed to describe every detail of the desert and the people in it.

Sullivan's writing definitely has a magical feel to it, every sentence plays a small, yet important part of the story and it kept me intrigued.

Overall, this book was a pleasure to read and I feel so incredibly honored to a part of this blog tour for this amazing book. I can't wait to see what Sullivan writes next.

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