Published by Katherine Tegen Books on April 23, 2019
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Diversity
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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.
Inspired by ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology.
The Tiger at Midnight immediately caught my attention with its gorgeous cover. Before I knew it, the writing sucked me in, and after I got to meet the characters, I was thoroughly ensnared in its pages. This Indian-inspired fantasy is full of deceit, secrets, and a game of chase between two morally gray characters. It’s enthralling from beginning to finish, and I don’t quite remember when a debut fantasy ensnared me the way this book did. Readers follow the main characters Esha and Kunal – two vastly different people from vastly different standings – as they move forward in a fast-paced plot where the lands aren’t safe, and the kingdom needs balance. Who will get there first? And what will it take to do so?
Never greet a tiger at midnight, for they are the manifestations of your past misdeeds.
Teerdhala creates a gorgeous backdrop to the world. In a land ruled by two kingdoms, the balance is disrupt when a coup takes place. One kingdom – Dharka – is left with a weak ruling family and is plagued with rebels, while the other – Jansa – is home to the “Pretender King” who usurped the throne and broke the harmony brought by the gods of the past. Because of this broken peace, the land is suffering – and the people with it. Focus into our characters Esha and Kunal, and we’re looking at big players from two competing sides. Esha is known as the “Viper,” a mysterious Dharkan assassin who is set out on revenge after losing her family during the coup. Kunal is a good Jansan soldier – even to the point of being called “Perfect Kunal” by his peers. It helps that his uncle is the general of the Pretender King. She’s tasked to kill his uncle. He’s sent to go after her. Thus starts a game of chase where each character’s motives start evolving after dancing with death with the other.
No words had been exchanged, but Kunal knew in his marrow that she and Esha understood each other. She wouldn’t stop running and he wouldn’t stop chasing her.
I absolutely loved the character tension that the two characters expressed. Teerdhala writes them with such morally gray ambitions, creating a lot of awesome discourse on what, how, and WHO gets to dish out justice. 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. Their character progression was just phenomenal to see, and I honestly can’t believe the author managed to write it so seamlessly with all the awesome action and plotting going on. There’s a perfect balance of everything, and this just turned it into a story I couldn’t stop reading until the final page.
Also, can we talk about that tantalizing tension between Esha and Kunal? Way to make a game of chase into basically an almost flirtation. (Or at least, this reader saw it like so.) Although my intiial thoughts were a hate-to-love, Esha and Kunal start with distrust rather than flat-out hate. From there, they slowly reveal themselves to the other, and the sparks begin to fly in no time. I love how they challenge the other – especially with how Esha’s own experience and narrative galvanizes Kunal towards a future he can grasp with his own hands, rather being guided under someone else’s hands. Their slow-burn romance was both gripping and mild, justified in its formation despite the characters’ situations. And I am here for that.
If only they had met in another world, another life.
Instead she had found him in this one. Bound by duty and honor, sworn to protect and serve.
There’s only so much gushing I can do for this book, but it all boils down to this: if you love fantasies that have a perfect mix of political intrigue, betrayals, and immense characterization (as well as unique world-building), The Tiger At Midnight is the book for you. Although we get very little explanation on the magical elements of the world, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of it in the sequel, and how that can change the tide of the turmoil across the land. Esha and Kunal are both amazing individuals that readers will really come to empathize and fall in love with. Their struggles, ambitions, and conflicted emotions were a wonder to read, and the author does an amazing job in bringing them to life. I can’t stress how dazzling of a fantasy this book is. You need it like, yesterday!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thank you HarperTeen and Edelweiss for the review copy!