Monday, October 2, 2017

Early Review of The Tiger’s Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency #1) by K. Arsenault Rivera

Title: The Tiger's Daughter
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Their Bright Ascendency (Book 1)
Format: Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (October 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0765392534
ISBN-13: 978-0765392534
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan of the book in exchange for an honest review.

For years the Hokkaran empire has been encroached upon by invading demons. Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, and empress, O-Shizuka may be the empire's only hope for survival. Born a month apart, they are rumored to be descended from the gods, and fated to be friends due to an Omen which presented itself in the form of two pine needles which rested upon each of the girls' forehead between their eyes shortly after their births. Their mothers were fierce warriors who bridged the gap between their cultures with their friendship. Shelfali and O-Shizuka's skills in warfare are believed to rival or surpass those of their mothers'.

This is their story as written in a love letter from one woman to the other.
The world that Ms. Rivera portrays is rich, beautiful, dangerous, and deadly. The tales told within were wonderful. The characters were interesting, diverse, and formidable. I probably would have loved the book if not for two very big things.

Firstly, I hated the letter format. This was a HUGE book with probably less than 1, at most, 2% of it written outside of this one huge letter. The first and last chapters and one, possibly two, other places jumped out of letter format to put us in the present time period that the book is set in. This, in my humble opinion, was a mistake because it keeps the reader from engaging with the story. It keeps us as outsiders looking in. There were several points where this drove me completely bonkers, and I had to disengage myself from the book. I just couldn't take it any more. We only get a one dimensional view and that just didn't work for me. There were letters written within the main letter which I'm guessing was the author's way of trying to get around the one dimensional viewpoint, but for me it was too much.

Secondly, I don't care what type of romance a book has, but if you are making the center of the book a love letter then you really need to kick infidelity to the curb. If you don't it isn't love because, in my humble opinion, unless you mistakenly think someone is dead, there was an official break-up, or the like, there's really no excuse. Especially when the transgressor isn't sorry and tries to justify it. Granted, there was an eight year separation, but for me you've automatically issued the kiss of death. So as a romance, at least for me, this one failed. Luckily, the main genre for this novel is fantasy. In fact, I didn't realize this one had a lesbian love story in it until about the forty percent mark. At that point there's really no mistaking it because a love scene is reminisced about. So while this one fails, in my humble opinion, as a love story, the fantasy portion is pretty enjoyable.

I really liked Shelfali, and how she had the ability to see the demons when no one else could. I felt her frustration at trying to convince others who did not believe in her ability that she had it, especially when it manifested at such an early age. The demons seemed like a more conscious version of zombies who could infect those around them if they came in contact with their blood. I particularly loved the tale of Shefali and O-Shizuka slaying a tiger at the tender age of eight and earning their names. Yet after all the tales and stories about these two friends, I didn't particularly care for O-Shizuka. Perhaps this is another result of the book's narrative for I really didn't feel I knew her.

Overall, I'm giving this one 2 1/2 out of 5 roses. I keep going back and forth between giving it 2 or 3 roses, but a 2 seems too low while a 3 seems too high. The author has a truly wonderful and creative imagination. I really liked the tales told within the letter, but this was a really long letter, and the second person narrative didn't draw me in. I don't mind stories with letters inside them, but making almost the whole book into a letter sadly didn't work for me.

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