Published by Harmony Ink Press on August 22nd 2017
Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn't question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.
After reading The Seafarer’s Kiss, I was really excited to jump aboard The Tiger’s Watch. Though I was a bit hesitant about the length of the book (a high fantasy novel written in 180 pages?), the premise promised me awesome things, and on some levels, it delivered; on others, it did not.
First of all, the length of the book showed in its lack of development. While we did get a sense of the world-building and ongoing politics, it was just that – a sense. I would have liked a little more history in this, like why the Myeik and Thim were at war, or why Xian was so adamant on getting rid of the inhabitors. None of this was clearly explained – perhaps something left for the sequel, but that feels like crucial information when you’re setting the scene. I did appreciate how culturally diverse it was.
The inhabitors are a group of people who can link themselves to a certain animal. For Tashi, this was a golden tiger by the name of Katala. This means that we saw most of the book through Tashi’s eyes, but she also transferred herself to Katala’s conscience at times, mostly during hunting scenes and other moments when Katala struck to attack. I thought this was a really cool addition, but on top of that, when Katala did show affection, it was all the more sweet.
Tashi is genderfluid, which seems so effortlessly blended into the story that you barely notice it. There are times when they have to correct someone to use the correct pronouns, but other than that, everyone around them pretty much accepted it and that was awesome. I did have some issues with their love triangle – although one of their love interests was more of a lust interest – but their love and concern for their friend really shone throughout the story and was one of its stronger aspects. The lust one… not so much. I’m all for the main character falling for the bad guy, but in this case, it didn’t really work.
As the story ended on such a high note (and I’m left wondering why it didn’t just continue, as it was only 180 pages long), I am definitely interested in reading the sequel. The balance of power has shifted noticeably, so I’m very curious to see what happens next.
Thank you to the author and the publisher for providing me with a copy