Book review · novel

Book review: The Tiger’s Daughter

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

29760778Description: (from Macmillan)

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.

Publication date: October 3rd 2017.
A review copy (eARC) of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley. Some things might change in the final copy.

I had been excited for this book for a very long time and was overjoyed to get to read this novel early. Before starting my review, I want to link several others that address the cultural aspect that I didn’t spot when reading and that I think is very important to take into account especially since the author seems to not have done enough research:

Told in second person perspective, this is a long letter that Shefali writes to Shizuka. There are sometimes small parts where we get to see Shizuka POV when she is reading this letter and reacting to it. While it is a very unusual way to frame a novel and it took me a while to get used to it, I quite liked this. At times it felt a bit heavy-handed when Shefali describes some place that we know Shizuka already knows, or even conversations they had. We really feel the love Shefali has for Shizuka, it’s even funny when she directly addresses her and reassures her of her love when slightly critisizing her.

I loved watching these two young women love and protect one another, fight together and always being there for the other no matter what they went through. You can feel they are destined to be together, there’s a bit of insta-love, but they also take a while to know each other well. I loved their mothers who are the most badass warriors I’d read about, I wish we’d seen more of them. By the end of the novel, I grew to like these young women and was very invested in their story and was cheering for them. I think my favourite part of the novel was the end where there is a lot happening and I raced through the last 50 pages or so, to find out what would happen to them. It’s also because it takes a while to get into the story and it really felt like a reward to get to this point and everything finally picking up.

Indeed the chapters are very long and there’s a big case of info-dump, it is slow paced and we don’t always understand what is the point of this letter.
I loved the demon fighting but the book focuses way more on the feelings these two young women develop than on the political aspect and supernatural elements that I was looking forward to. I don’t very much understand why the whole “Even gods can be slain” thing was put front and center for the promo of this book because it isn’t the central point of the novel nor are there literal gods, except if I understood something wrong? The demons slaying part was there but, again, I wished there had been more of it or more explanations.

The fact that the author used real racial slurs is a big no, it is addressed in the reviews I linked at the beginning and I agree that it’s a really bad choice. I can’t help but think about Asian women picking up this book because an epic-fantasy set in a non-european setting with lesbian warriors does sound awesome and being faced with those slurs might be a pretty crappy experience.

This is another novel where I loved the queer representation (which is #ownvoices) and the characters, the slow pace and action scenes; BUT because other aspects (the setting verging on cultural appropriation and racism) can be very damaging I wouldn’t really recommend this book.

You can read the first chapter (and more) on the website: The Tiger’s Daughter: Chapter 1.

content warnings: graphic sex scene, graphic violence

4 thoughts on “Book review: The Tiger’s Daughter

  1. I hope to read this one soon, but the mixed reviews have made me a bit wary. I’m an Asian woman, but I actually doubt I would be bothered too much by the “cultural appropriation” and slurs. I’m more concerned by all the complaints of slow pacing and info dumps to be honest 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah I think it’s a mixed bag, I was so excited about this book that I powered through the info dumps and slow pacing because I was so intent on loving it! In the end I don’t regret reading this epic love story but it’s definitely not for everyone.
      Yes I linked two reviews that comment on those issues but weren’t *that* bothered by it so I guess it really depends on the person!


  2. As a Chinese queer woman, I loved this book to bits and didn’t really find anything offensive about it. I actually plan on re-reading it again soon, as I wait for the squeal to arrive in the mail . It’s slow paced and character-based but I managed to finish it pretty quickly because I was too engaged with the characters’ struggles to sleep lol.


    1. Hello! I’m glad you loved the book then 🙂
      Like I said, there are people who were hurt and people who loved it, but as a white reader I can’t just ignore those who found hurt in it and I must acknowledge that.
      Have a good day and I hope you’ll enjoy the sequel as well!


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