Ugh! My heart! This book was SO GOOD! Annie Sullivan’s sophomore release is a sweeping fantastical stand alone set in a desert climate. If I’m honest, one of the first things that drew me to this book was that it was a stand alone. I love LOVE my series, but sometimes – I just want a good, engaging book that has an ending. This one met every box I needed checked! There are so many things that I could rave about – from the plot, to the characters, to the writing, to the setting and the twists. SO MUCH OF THIS WAS AMAZING! To top off that I met Annie at BOOKCON, converse with her often in book groups and am in love with A Touch oF Gold – I couldn’t pass up this book.
From Goodreads: In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.
But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.
The Book Dragon breaks down…
One of the first things I’m going to say about this book is the language. I cannot express how grateful I am that never once did I have to cringe at the language being used, or have to remove it from classroom consideration for it. It is a cleanly written, yet POWERFUL read.
There was no unneeded vulgarity, nothing that you would cringe if you shared it with ANYONE. I don’t think y’all understand how rare this is nowadays! I love recommending books to people, but I always have to consider the language and the person I’m recommending them to. This book was an easy “if you like any kind of fantasy, you’ll like this one!”
I found the concept to be very intriguing. A desert kingdom under siege, water shortages, princesses that must fight to rule. It was all just so “up my alley”.
Let me tell you, I started the book on the plane home and I finished it the next day (the plane ride was 3 hours), totally about 8.5 hours to read. IT WAS OUTSTANDING. There was so much depth, and intrigue and loyalty.
One of the major points of the story is that Kateri must fight her suitors in the ring. If they won, they could rule, if not, they were banished. This was not something I’d ever read before and I couldn’t get enough of it. The fighting scenes were addictive, ya’ll. A woman who controls her fate is something I am here for!
The justice system is well devised, albeit…..twisted. Making a person choose between two doors, death or freedom is brilliant – even when you know the outcome. The main recipient of these “trials” are The Desert Boys – which we get to know FAST.
Kateri is goals, 100%. Kateri is my new best friend, ya’ll. Her ferocious attitude and determination make her a force to be reckoned with. Annie Sullivan has once again brought us a story rich with passion, power, betrayal and heart.
Kateri is a princess who, while she loves her people and her kingdom, has been locked up since the death of her mother and views herself as a failure. She’s never quite good enough. Her people don’t know her, her father only wants one thing, and she’s completely at odds with herself. The character arc through this novel was exceptional. She is something that I would cheer for again and again!
I also loved the enemy to lovers aspect of this book. The “bad guy” was so complex and layered that I truly couldn’t quite get him at times. That was something that kept me reading, easily. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil it!
The King, the secondary characters and all the little things that make an excellent novel were well done and fantastically pulled together.
There is so much more that I could say about this novel, but instead, I’m going to urge you to read it! Read it, love it, rave about it! And then go grab “A TOUCH OF GOLD” and read that too! 😉 5/5 stars