The Tiger at Midnight, Swati Teerdhala – Book Review

Hello Humans! I’m back with another book review – this time for a book I received for my birthday back in February from my in-laws – and one that I actually read back in June so it’s doubly….delayed? But I loved this book so much I thought I’d take the time to give it a dedicated review here on the blog and tell you what I thought about The Tiger at Midnight, especially since the sequel The Archer at Dawn is now out!

Tiger

Goodreads Summary:

A broken bond. A dying land. A cat-and-mouse game that can only end in bloodshed.

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 been growing only 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 the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.

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When I first started reading this I was a little worried, because I’d read books with an assassin and a soldier before almost every time I ended up getting so frustrated at the romance between them (why would you romance someone who wants to kill you?). So with a tentativeness that comes from bad YA experiences I started reading.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by many aspects of this book. I will say, it had – at this point – been a fair while since I’d picked up a YA fantasy book of this kind so perhaps I was less burned out than I had been in the past – but also this book does some great things that combat the things that I disliked in previous YA books.

For one thing – these two aren’t trying to kill each other – well….not as such. One of them is out to get the other, for sure, but it isn’t ‘let me kill you’ which I think makes a big difference when you then set up a romance between the two of them! I hadn’t really thought about what ‘a game of cat and mouse’ meant but it makes for really entertaining reading.

This book is a series of traps being laid followed by daring escapes and (though it seems cheesy to say) snappy comebacks and snark – it’s the fun kind of ‘bantery’ dialogue that I enjoy – and it always feels genuine and not like something that an author thinks is ‘sassy’. It makes for a fun read, although there are a lot of hard truths in there too.

This book draws inspiration from Ancient Indian history and also Hindu mythology, but there’s a lot of parallels that can be drawn about the occupation of India – particularly when reading from a British perspective. It would be something I would certainly recommend to young people – and I think it would be a good place to start/continue a discussion about colonialism and the surrounding issues. Especially since the UK curriculum seems to want to brush that particular issue under the carpet – no, by all means, teach me about the Tudors and then jump to WW1 nothing else happened in the meantime (sarcasm).

I thought this book was great, it’s long but so fast-paced it’ll fly by. It is daring and exciting and has so much meat on the bones of the story you really get a sense of the world that Swati Teerdhala has created. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the sequel because I want more from this world and these characters.

If you love YA and you adore a YA romance then this is definitely a book for you. If you, like me, are someone who enjoys all things fantasy and you appreciate YA when it does something different I think this would also be well worth picking up – especially now the sequel is out! You not only get a wonderful story but also delightful characters and some food for thought too.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received this book as a gift from family, all  opinions are my own.

The Tiger at Midnight is available now!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? Have any of you read the sequel yet? Please tell me it’s good!

J

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