Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.
But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.
|For fans of desert-based fantasy
I’ve been meaning to pick up A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan, but I’m on a book ban! So, I was excited to receive this book to review instead. Especially since the premise interested me. A Princess fighting in an arena, proving she’s worthy to rule her kingdom? Absolutely! But more than that—add in the fact the people are being deprived of water and there are rations put in place.
Everything about this book promised a great read, but did it deliver? In some ways, yes, it did. Princess Kateri is naive and has been sheltered by her father to keep her shielded from the truth. He is a cruel man, which is no secret, but Kateri is so blinded to it, which allowed her character to grow immensely. She is strong willed, strong of mind, but her character still fell somewhat flat for me.
There was a disconnect while reading, and I’m not sure why. There was action—a ton of action—which kept the story moving, but because there was so much action I felt withdrawn from the deeper parts of the story. There were some aspects I wished were more fleshed out, more politics with the palace, less training, more experiences in the desert.
I do love that this is based on a short story The Lady or The Tiger?, and from that short story, this world came from it. It’s unique, it’s gritty, and it was a good read and I’d give it 3.5 savvy crowns.
What are some of your favorite retellings?