Title: The Tiger at Midnight
Series Details: The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy #1
Author: Swati Teerdhala
Imprint: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: April 23, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Blurb from Goodreads:
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.
The air of cliché is visible within the first few pages of The Tiger at Midnight. A boy and a girl fighting on different sides of war got lost in each other’s eyes—I was just too familiar with that kind of atmosphere having read it a lot of times. With that said, I wasn’t really expecting to be surprised by this book—but it did, somehow, throw some quite exciting surprises, and things started to get fun.
The pacing of this book is perfect. The conflicts are laid strongly and quickly. Just a few chapters in and the characters are already in a tight spot—jeopardized identity, crazy missions, big mystery to solve. There’s an ailing land to heal, a king to kill. Not to mention the constant run-pursuit-capture-escape loop between soldier and assassin. These effectively hooked me in.
However, after some time it got stale. The chase has become ridiculous. For someone who’s on the run, a number of skilled soldiers on her tail, Esha doesn’t appear to be in much hurry. How everyone, especially Kunal, easily catches up with her every damn time, despite her having hours—even days—of travelling ahead of him, is just unbelievable. It’s like a pretty convenient excuse to have these two characters interact with each other, extinguishing the possible complexities that could have made a more enticing romance.
Never greet a tiger at midnight, for they are the manifestations of your past misdeeds.
The main character, Esha, has a heart that hungers for justice and revenge. She’s the Viper—an assassin famous for her elusiveness and ruthlessness. But I’m so not convinced. There were no proofs of Esha’s ruthlessness. She hasn’t even killed anyone of importance in this book. She may have sliced a soldier or two at the end, but they were very minor characters who doesn’t even have a distinct role in the story except for being a soldier of the Blood Fort. All she did was miss all the important marks here.
The coincidences in this book are absurd! Like a convenient way of tying things together. It ruined what could have been a good twist, to be honest. Also, there were some foreshadowing about a character’s identity early in the book that just didn’t work to the story’s advantage. If anything, it just made things predictable for me.
The Tiger at Midnight had a strong start, almost totally dull in the middle, and quite interesting in the end. It wasn’t a bad book. Mostly it falls into the “average book” category. I just feel like there’s a lot of things in there that could’ve have been improved. The ending left me somewhat satisfied though. Judging by how this book wrapped up, I see that there will be more work for Esha and Kunal in the next installment. Even though I certainly had some issues with this, I’m still here for the next release.