When I first got the email announcing the blog tour for The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember, I didn’t even check when it would be taking place. I knew I had to be part of it, even if it meant moving other things around. And wow am I super excited to be able to share my thoughts on this book with you? Rhetorical question because of course I am! As per the usual with blog tours, stick around to the end of the post and you’ll be rewarded with a giveaway!
First, let’s have a look at the Goodreads Synopsis.
Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as an inhibitor, 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 inhabiter’s bond to their animal is for life–if Katala dies, so will Tashi.
Before I jump into the review, there were a few trigger and content warnings I noticed this needs, so here they are:
- War crimes
- Tortured questioning
I have quite a jumble of feelings toward this book, but I’ll try to make it as cohesive as possible. As a result, it will probably be one of my longer reviews though so buckle up, get comfy, and grab some chocolate. The chocolate isn’t required but it’s been a long month and you deserve it.
The characters were relatively well developed in a way that I could see each of them as individuals personality wise. I could easily distinguish between Tashi and the people they interacted with. I did enjoy that the societies depicted are openly accepting of people regardless of their gender and I was happy with the fact that each time Tashi was misgendered (I counted three times), it was immediately addressed on the same page. I really enjoyed how well Tashi and Pharo contrast each other, with Pharo being brave to the point of being reckless and Tashi being cowardly and cautious. I say cowardly first intentionally because that is one of the biggest character flaws Tashi has.
However, there was little to no physical description given for anyone. There are mentions of characters having hair, for example, but length, color, texture, etc… These things are never mentioned so I honestly have very little clue what any of them might look like beyond the cover image and one character who may or may not have had pale skin and freckles. I only vaguely remember this description as it was not of any of the main characters of the story.
The world building was really well done. The magic and mystery was explained enough that I felt like I could have been a citizen of Thim without taking away too much of the mystery behind it. The rest of the culture wasn’t explained very well, but from the mention of chopsticks, it was easy to assume an East Asian type of culture was being used to build it. There was mention of gods, but not much depth given to them. The thing we got to see most was the loyalty that the people of Thim have for each other. I think this is part of why Tashi’s actions confuse me quite a bit, but I’ll get to that later. The world was done just enough to be almost immersive, which I loved.
The plot. Where to begin… I suppose at the beginning. The story starts with Tashi and Pharo riding an elephant with a comatose Kalx toward the Chirang monastery that is the backdrop for much of the story. They’ve managed to escape their academy in Jakar after a siege ruined the city with the help of Mistress Lhamo, one of their teachers. The premise and plot of the story were very interesting and had me hooked so I could find out what would happen next, right up until I saw the Acknowledgements and began needing the second book of the series. I literally read this entire book in a matter of hours because I could not put it down.
Back to what I mentioned earlier about Tashi’s choices: Why??? First, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. Tashi is constantly going back and forth between loathing and lusting after Xian, who is literally their owner while they had these thoughts/feelings. Like, I understand the body of an allosexual person will react to what it finds physically attractive but come on, Tashi! You watched him torture someone for hours and now you’re eyeing him in the bath? No. Please stop.
The second point I was going to make on Tashi’s decisions… I got half through writing the paragraph on it and realized it was a huge spoiler for the end of the book so…. I’ll just say Tashi makes some severely questionable decisions during their story and leave it at that!
The writing itself flowed so well. This was my first time reading anything from Julia Ember and I was blown away by how beautiful the writing was. I loved how well the genderfluidity was incorporated into the story. It wasn’t fully centered because the story wasn’t about gender, but it wasn’t brushed aside as just another fact about the character either. I can’t speak to how good the rep is, but I really enjoyed this aspect.
Overall, I rate The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word on it! Get your hands on a copy by ordering from:
- Amazon (US)
- Amazon (UK)
- Barnes and Noble (US)
- Books-A-Million (US)
- Chapters (Canada)
- Book Depository
- your local bookstore or local library
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.
Julia began her writing career at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, which also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Her second novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss will be released by Interlude Press in May 2017. The book was heavily influenced by Julia’s postgraduate work in Medieval Literature at The University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her total obsession with beluga whales.
In August 2017, her third novel and the start of her first series, Tiger’s Watch, will come out with Harmony Ink Press. In writing Tiger’s Watch, Julia has taken her love of cats to a new level.
And now, for that giveaway I promised you! There will be not one but two winners! And the best news of all? This giveaway is international!! So, what do you lucky readers have the chance to win?
- two (2) winners will receive a signed paperback copy of The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember
Sounds excellent, right? All you have to do is…
If you’d like more chances to win (of course you would), make sure you follow the blog tour! You can find the full schedule of stops by clicking HERE.
Thank you so much to Julia Ember for writing The Tiger’s Watch! You are a rockstar.
Another huge thank you to Chapter by Chapter Blog Tour for allowing me to be part of this tour. If you aren’t a host with them yet, you can sign up by clicking on the button below. They are an absolute delight to work with!
That’s all for now. Happy reading!