Review: The Tiger's Daughter

29760778Title: The Tiger's Daughter
Author: K. Arsenault Rivera
Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:Even gods can be slain….
The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.
Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.
This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

This was such a beautiful book! (It's been 6 months since I read this book, but better late than never, right??)

When you've read a lot of fantasy, you develop a sort of intuition for how the story is going to play out. It's hard to tell a story that hasn't already been told a hundred times before; what makes any story worth reading is the details and the characters and the new voice the author brings to the table. The Tiger's Daughter is one of those rare gems that feels sort of familiar but entirely new at the same time.

The story opens with an imperious, headstrong empress on a throne, but then shifts gears as most of the book is in the form of letters addressed to said empress. I have to admit the "You" thing threw me off (I've never been a fan of second-person perspective in novels), but I thought there was a good reason for it and a good balance between time spent on the letters and time in the "present day". I loved that the cultures described in this book were heavily influenced by Asian cultures (Japanese and Mongolian, I think?), because that's just so rare in fantasy. I also loved that most of the main characters were women. There are women leaders, warriors, noblewomen, and traveling nomads. For once it almost seems like the men are there to advance the plot and character development of the women! Almost is the key there, all characters were very well-developed and had interesting, conflicting motivations.

This is a love story for the ages, and I'm not even much of a romantic! I loved how Shefali and O-Shizuka's relationship developed from friendship to love; we get to see them grow up together so the relationship feels very organic. Neither of them gives up their agency or their pride in their very different cultures and heritage; neither of them is reduced to "the romantic interest" as is usually the case for women. It's just so lovely to see queer representation in fantasy, especially between women of color.

Besides the stunning characters, intricate world-building, political machinations, and exciting demonic creatures from hell, what really captured my attention was the writing style. I just fell in love with how the words flowed on the page. Rivera has such a strong voice, but so do these characters. Although it ends on a fairly conclusive and satisfying note, I cannot wait to see how this story continues to unfold.

A free eARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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