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.
*ARC received as a part of street team activities. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*
The Tiger At Midnight is the story of Kunal and Esha, and how their game of chase turns into more as time passes and they get to know each other better. What was the standout for me in this one was the plot. I have never read a novel where the main plot is actually the chase between the two protags, so it was really fun for me to read something like this. When I read the synopsis, I thought it would be like one of those episodes of a detective tv show where the soldier is gathering clues to find the assassin, but it was actually, literally a cat and mouse chase between the two and it was so much fun!
The build up for the romance was amazing! I love a good enemies to lovers romance, and TTAM gave us exactly that! When the chase begins, our two characters, obviously, do not like each other though there is an undecided attraction between them, but as they continue on their journey, and somehow in between hits and misses, disjointed conversations, and escapes, get to know each other, they start to develop feelings for each other. That bit of the story is done so very well. I loved it!
Of course, there are some unexpected plot twists along the way, which I loved. I had one thing in my mind when the story started, and it did not happen which was a big surprise for me, and something which I was not expecting did, which was a bigger surprise. The twists and turns definitely kept me on my toes the whole time and I loved it. There were a couple things that seemed to happen out of the blue and I felt there should have been more build up for those, but that was the only complaint I had.
As an #OwnVoices reviewer for the book, I absolutely loved the world building. The little things that might not make sense to a non desi person were absolutely the things that I loved most. Nods to the smallest of details that are important in my culture were the best parts of this book. And, the food and the clothes. The scattered mentions of various types of food throughout the story made me really happy! And the traditional clothing that the characters donned and which were described so beautifully have my heart.
The characters in this story are, in my opinion, the best thing about it. Everyone has shades of gray. I love that I can’t say anyone is completely good or completely bad and that’s the best thing. Even the good characters have done questionable things and the bad guys have done good things. Even so, the motivations of everyone involved can’t be faulted and I like that. Characters with different shades are the best and there was an abundance of those in this book.
Esha, one of the main leads, is driven by her thirst for revenge. She’s absolutely kick*ss in everything she does. She’s strong, determined, and absolutely amazing at her job. I admire everything about her. She’s very quick on her feet, literally and figuratively, and I adore that. She gets into trouble at almost every turn, but she always finds her way out of it. But, as the story progresses, she starts to realize how she’d made her revenge everything in her life, and that she doesn’t need to live that way. It was an amazing journey towards this realization and I loved it.
Kunal, the other main lead, was my favourite character in the book. His growth was astounding as the story moved forward. He’d been raised with a very strict approach, had had things drilled into him since he was young, but he as he grew up, he started questioning everything, and wanted to bring a change in his surroundings. The resolve grew when he travelled outside his home and saw how bad things really were. There was a lot of internal conflict between what his duty was, what he’d been taught, and what he thought was the right thing to do as he saw the drought and destruction that was prevalent in the kingdom. It was so satisfying to see him grow throughout the story, to see him understand things.
The other characters were also well fun in their own way, though we only caught little glimpses of them so there was not much of them to explore. The little bits that we did get to see were entertaining and I liked everyone we got to see. I’m excited to see more of them in the next book.
All in all, this was an amazing read, and I’d definitely recommend it! 🙂
Swati Teerdhala is the author of The Tiger at Midnight series, which has appeared on both Barnes and Noble and Book Riot’s Most Anticipated Novels lists.
After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BS in finance and BA in history, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. She’s passionate about many things, including how the right ratio of curd-to-crust in a lemon tart. She currently lives in New York City.
Have you read TTAM? Did you like it? Who’s your favourite character? Are you excited for The Archer at Dawn?