The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala - REVIEW
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala Publication Date: April 23rd, 2019 Publisher: HarperCollins Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Synopsis: 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. Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology, the first book in Swati Teerdhala's debut fantasy trilogy captivates with electric romance, stunning action, and the fierce bonds that hold people together—and drive them apart.
Thoughts: Well this book was certainly an entertaining ride! I really enjoyed the dynamics between the characters and the politics that followed the story throughout. Each of the characters had clear, unique views and I could understand each of their motivations which is refreshing in a genre where it can typically feel trope-y. Esha is a badass who is conflicted but ultimately determined while Kunal is questioning but fiercely loyal and when you put these two together, it’s wonderful. Their chemistry is clear and their back-and-forth - while sometimes repetitive - was so much fun to read. In terms of the politics, I am not sure how much of it is based on history or how much was fictional but it was very interesting to see how everything played out and how the outcomes of this book will play into the next two. As someone who admittedly has limited previous knowledge of Indian history or Hindu mythology, I found that Swati Teerdhala was able to bring the reader along and introduce them to a multitude of information without info-dumping or spoon feeding. When reading a fantasy with nods to true history or mythology, I appreciate them all the more when the author is able to integrate these details without detracting from the main story and I found that successfully done here. I managed to read 80% of this book in one sitting and, if I did not have to work the next day, I would have easily stayed up to finish it. Sometimes you pick up the exact right type of book when you are in the exact type of mood to read it and that was certainly the case for me here. I know that a lot of young adult fantasy revolves around a political threat and two characters from opposing sides being thrown together but there was just something about The Tiger at Midnight that had me hooked and I cannot wait for the next installment. For a debut, this story was well thought out, had a unique take on the standard young adult fantasy genre, elevated itself by including history and mythology as well as having well thought out characters and motivations. There were a few things that I could critique, such as the repetitive interactions, but even those didn’t overshadow how much I enjoyed these characters and their story.