Title: The Tiger’s Watch
Author: Julia Ember
Type: Fiction, Novella
Genre: YA, Fantasy, GLBT
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Date published: August 22, 2017
Page Count: 180
Source: Author, publisher, and blog tour host.
A digital copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, author, and blog tour hosts in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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.
A big thank you to Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours for allowing me to participate in this blog tour, and also providing me with a digital copy of this book.
– MY REVIEW –
I first heard about this book when I was browsing through diverse book lists back in January or February (somewhere around that time), and I remember being very intrigued by the plot because I had never read a book containing a gender fluid character, much less as the main character! This made me realize two things. One we are finally progressing toward a broader representation of genders and sexualities. And two, that due to this being the first book with a gender fluid MC for me, it means that we still have quite a ways to go.
I truly commend Julia Ember for bringing her character Tashi (referred to as a they) not only to the page, but also for sharing them with us. As someone who used to roleplay on sites online, I have years of character and story creation behind me, and during that time I have had a number of characters come to me who would either not 100% fit into the categories of male or female, or who plain refused to choose just one gender altogether. While a few roleplay sites were welcoming to characters like this, there were still many that were not. I was hesitant to bring such characters even to some of the more welcoming sites due to the reactions they (and myself) would receive from other roleplayers and characters. This is why I think it’s great that Ember’s character Tashi is not some character on an obscure roleplay site, but the main character of a book which is being published and made available to the world.
As you may have assumed, this book addresses certain issues involving genders, and what I found particularly interesting was how different types of masculinity and femininity were discussed throughout the narrative, as well as heterosexual matrimonial responsibilities and such. Even though this book is set in a fantasy world (which to me felt like perhaps China with magic), numerous subjects were brought up which are relevant to our actual world. This book would get even those who have never given gender roles, varying sexualities, and the like any thought to thinking about such matters.
The world building was fairly good, and I did keep in mind that due to this being a novella, there was a limited amount of space which could be devoted to descriptions (of world, or characters). Despite this being a novella, however, I did get a feel for the world in which The Tiger’s Watch is set, and I did catch myself at times wondering about the cultures, and other locations of Ember’s world. The writing in this book was also good and quite comprehensible. And while I did come across one or two colloquial word which threw me off, I found that these things did not generally hinder my immersion into the story.
The plot and characters kept me interested throughout, and I particularly enjoyed the relationship and magic between inhabitants and their animal partners. This is a unique type of magic, and I appreciate the detail and thought that went into creating this magic. There is quite some mythology which Ember has created for her world, which ties in with the plot as well as with the magic of the inhabitants (something which I always appreciate also). Overall, this was quite an interesting novella to read, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more work from this author.
– ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spends her days working in the book trade and her nights writing teen fantasy novels. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, PokemonGo and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life. Julia is a polyamorous, bisexual writer. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens, including those organised by the Scottish Booktrust and LGBT Youth Scotland. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries. Her travels inspire the fantasy worlds she creates, though she populates them with magic and monsters.
– PURCHASE LINKS –
THANK YOU FOR READING MY REVIEW! HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT DID YOU THINK? AND IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, DO YOU WANT TO, OR NOT? HOW COME? LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!