Ahoy there me mateys! I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
the tiger’s watch (Julia Ember)
Title: the tiger’s watch
Author: Julia Ember
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publication Date: TODAY!!!! (paperback/e-book)
Well, yet again, an interesting cover led me to take a look at this book. Gender-fluid protagonist who is bonded with a giant golden tiger? Yes, please. This book certainly was a quick read at 180 pages. I read it in one evening. It was an enjoyable read for me but not a fantastic one.
- Gender-fluid protagonist. Hooray for diversity! Also Tashi is accepted by society and their friends. If only our world could be this way for everyone.
- The protagonist is conflicted. Tashi does cry and get confused and make uninformed decisions. I like that the main character has emotions.
- Tashi didn’t just magically become a kick-ass warrior in a second because suddenly there is war.
- Tashi’s spy training is laughable in a good way because their society has been at peace for so long that Tashi thought those studies weren’t extremely important.
- I loved the best friend Pharo. He is stubborn and rash and lovable and caring.
- Bonds with animals. Awesome of course. I loved all the unique animals that humans could bond with. I also enjoyed the consequences for possessing the animal bond. Not all fun and games but no spoilers here!
- The protagonist is whiny. I don’t mind that Tashi cries sometimes or is scared. I did mind that they kept wanting someone else to save them. And yet they would rush into danger at the drop of a hat at other moments.
- An eventual love-triangle thing. It wasn’t instantaneous and there is a love-side and a lust-side. But why! So unnecessary.
- The politics and world-building are not really handled well. Cool concepts but not enough explanation. Plus Tashi becomes both a spy and a trusted companion in a really pathetic way.
- The plot is confusing. What plot there is seems to be driven by the love-triangle. Tashi’s lust gets in the way of rational thought. And plot points occur because they are not thinking. For example, the perspective on the lust-interest is a ‘He tortures people! He is so dreamy!’ kinda thing. Ugh.
- The ending! It was very abrupt and the protagonist makes a really dumb choice. Going from one extreme to another with no real thought. It is kinda explained but is a rather flimsy excuse for me taste.
I would have liked Tashi to use intelligence and wits to overcome their fear and uncertainty. I would have loved Tashi to have become an awesome spy. I would have loved for Tashi to make choices based on others instead of their own simple yet conflicted feelings and desires. That said I did enjoy many parts of this book. I just wanted more. The next novel apparently is from the different perspective of Pharo. It may be interesting to see the world from another perspective We shall see . . .
So lastly . . .
Thank you Harmony Ink Press!
The author’s website has this to say about the novel:
Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as an inhabiter, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But when the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi sees a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander – a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying reveals that everything the inhabiter’s academy taught was a lie, Tashi faces a choice: save their country or the boy they’ve started to love? But while Tashi grapples with the decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabiter’s bond to their animal is for life – when Katala dies, so will Tashi.
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