Let me just start off this review by saying, please go pre-order The Tiger at Midnight because it is phenomenal, I haven’t heard enough buzz, and the spine is stunning.
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.Summary from Goodreads
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
The Tiger at Midnight is a stunning debut fantasy book that will thrill you, make you scream, and wrench your heart. This dual point of view story takes you into Esha and Kunal’s heads as they dream of revenge, righting wrongs, and filling holes in their hearts with grief and retribution. Both Esha and Kunal come to question their roles in their revolutions, their duty, and exactly how far they’re willing to go for their dreams. Also let’s talk about how the banter in The Tiger at Midnight is some of my favorite of all time.
Characters of my heart
These two precious characters might be some of my favorite and certainly one of my favorite ships of all time. Teerdhala takes my favorite trope – enemies to friends – and delivers a thrilling story of challenging what we’ve been taught. You can tell that The Tiger at Midnight is the beginning of a trilogy, not because of the pace or the story, but because there’s so much we still want to see. While I knew I was going to love Esha – you sarcastic, intelligent, whip wielding badass – I really fell for Kunal.
(There’s also a side f/f relationship).
Throughout the book, Kunal leaves the Fort and begins to see the world – the grime under the fresh layers of paint. The desert behind the mirage. Growing up in a fierce military mentality, questioning orders and any questions are not tolerated – especially in a war where there’s a narrative to fill. So as Kunal leaves the Fort, his eyes are opened to all the things they never told the soldiers: the actions carried out for ‘success’, the lack of water, the poverty, and the fear.
And Esha’s journey is similarly heart wrenching as her relationship with Kunal challenges her mask. When we have this mask, literal or not, where we hide our feelings, our thoughts, our dreams, we begin to fall into a mask of being. When we forget who we are. And The Tiger at Midnight is about Esha and Kunal coming to terms with the idea that they’ve become too comfortable in their masks. Is it possible for them to be more than they ever thought possible? Once we know the face behind the mask, we can’t put it back. We will always see it show through in the cracks, to see beyond the legends, the rumors, the lies.
We come to define ourselves by what we’re holding. Whether that be our quest for revenge, our own illusions, and what would it be like if we let go of that spark? If we let that fire burn out?
The world building is so detailed it feels like we’re walking behind Esha and Kunal – like shadows in the night. Not to mention the society and political manipulations are just superb. It’s about a war fought between countries that used to be opposite sides on the same coin. A society, a coup, and the turning back of women’s rights.
The Tiger at Midnight asks us if we should follow the rules, even if they aren’t right. When we are asked to do something that grates on our bones. That we can fell with every fiber of being is wrong. Is our duty more important than our morality? And at the end of the day, what do we serve? Do we serve an idea? Our home, our family, our country?