Monday, April 15, 2019

#Review - The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: The Tiger at Midnight # 1
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Release Date: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

Sparkling with breathtaking action and sweeping romance, the first book in Swati Teerdhala’s debut South Indian–inspired fantasy trilogy follows one rebel girl’s mission to assassinate a ruthless general—only to have her heart captured by a greater force.

Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has only been growing more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and their game transforms into a breathless chase of impossible attraction, both the soldier and the rebel must decide where their loyalties lie: with the lives they’ve killed to hold on to or with the love that’s made them dream of something more?

 “Never greet a tiger at midnight, for they are the manifestations of your past misdeeds”

The Tiger at Midnight, by author Swati Teerdhala, is the first installment in the author's Tiger at Midnight trilogy.  Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology, Teerdhala creates a fresh, layered world that is vivid and compelling. We see this sitting alongside other lush, diverse fantasies like Children of Blood and Bone, The Wrath & the Dawn, and An Ember in the Ashes

The story takes place in the lands of Jansa and Dharka, two lands bound together by magic that descends from twins Naria and Narian. The land requires a blood ritual from their bloodline, but thanks to a coup by the pretender King, Dharka is suffering and a Princess who might be able to save the land, is missing. As the janma bond unravels, increasing natural disasters are happening more frequently. While one land, Dharka, seems to have survived and thrived, Jansa is in the middle dark days. 

The story alternates between two main characters: Esha and Kunal. Esha is a rebel, a spy, an assassin known as the Viper, & a survivor of a brutal coup that killed her parents. She works for a group called Crescent Blades who have come together in order to remove the pretender King from power, and install the true heir before it is too late. After Esha finds a way into the Castle to assassinate General Hotha, she discovers that someone has already beat her to the punch. What's even more troubling, is that her whip, which is part her persona as the Viper, is found with the body. Could she have been betrayed by one of her own?

Kunal is the nephew of a General who Esha wants to assassinate. Kunal is a good Jansan soldier - even to the point of being called “Perfect Kunal” by his peers. He has been training as a soldier for 10 years, but things are about to get really dangerous. When the General is found murdered, Kunal is sent to retrieve or kill the assassin known as the Viper. Thus starts a game of chase where each character’s motives start evolving after dancing with death with the other. 

Kunal and Esha’s cat and mouse chase will leave readers breathless as the two protagonists, who we get to know through alternating POVs, are torn between loyalty and love. Throughout the chase, Kunal finds out that the lands outside his military bases are suffering. Esha begins seeing the general’s nephew as more than a mark. Can two adversaries manage to work together to save the world? Is there hope that a lost princess can be found in time for the necessary blood ritual that is said to keep the land alive? Or, will other factors interfere and being about untold destruction of both countries?

With a major plot twist at the end of this story, I am definitely curious as to what happens next between Esha and Kunal. Although there is plenty of action and adventure, I would have been happier if the book was a bit shorter. At times the story seems to spin back on itself and we are right back to the characters facing off, and one, usually Esha, finding a way to escape from Kunal's clutches.

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