The Tiger At Midnight – Swati Teerdhala – The Tiger At Midnight Trilogy #1 – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 23 April 2019
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.
The Tiger at Midnight is a sweeping fantasy novel, beautifully crafted and unique with its Indian-inspired setting.
Esha is an assassin, known as the Viper. She works to undermine General Hotha and King Vardaan who caused so much harm when they unrightfully stole the throne. Kunal is a solider. Raised by General Hotha, Kunal knows his duty is to the king and army. But when he at first unwittingly meets Esha and is then tasked with finding and killing the Viper, everything he knows about the world and his role in it will be challenged.
The beginning of The Tiger at Midnight is a little confusing. Esha and Kunal meet in the very first chapter and they have an instant connection. They share a few words, flirt a little and go their separate ways. Readers are then given a run down of the history and political climate, the war between the two countries and events that have led to the start of this book. I became totally lost. I didn’t yet have a strong enough grip on the characters or setting to be plunged into the history and it was all so out of context I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I might have also needed more sleep. But I kept reading and I’m so glad I did. The story moves from this complex information overload to action, intrigue and a fun cat and mouse chase. The readers also slowly get to know Esha and Kunal, learning who they are and their missions, how they fit into the story and how that previously outlined history effects everything. By halfway into the book, I was truly enjoying the story. I loved the bits of humour spread throughout. The connection between Esha and Kunal is undeniable, even as they remain enemies. The twists that come later in the story have been forshadowed and so are not a complete surprise, but they bring a layer of interest and complexity, which I loved. I also loved the ending. It’s a great way to the end the story and yet have me eagerly ready to read the second book in this trilogy.
The setting and culture in The Tiger at Midnight is beautifully detailed and comes alive under the deft hand of Teerdhala – from the jewelled saris and lush jungles, to the weaponry, myths and old sayings. The Tiger at Midnight also raises important themes of environmental destruction, in this case through the breaking of a sacred bond.
I highly recommend The Tiger at Midnight for fantasy fans, especially for those looking for one with a unique setting.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Assassins, fighting, war, romance, alliances, rebellions, India, Hindu mythology, romance.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Violence – death, injuries, fighting and descriptions of assassinations. Implied sexual relationships and vague sexual references.
Published: 23 April 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 496 pages.