From the publisher, “In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an old law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena against twelve suitors to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, losing is not an option because in order to fulfil her promise to her late mother, she must win to keep her crown and lead her people. The situation outside the palace is uneasy. The harsh desert is unforgiving, water is scarce, and Kateri’s people are thirsty. To make matters worse, the gang of thieving Desert Boys, the same group that killed Kateri’s mother and her new baby, frequently raids the city wells and steals water, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is the choice between two doors. Behind one door lies freedom and behind the other is a tiger.
The people of Achra are growing restless and distrustful of the monarchy, and when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In her desperation, Kateri turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. Her future now, too, is behind two doors-only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which will release the tiger.”
I enjoyed this book! The author jumps right on in with the story beginning in the arena and the hardened life of the princess. She toughens from her merciless trainers, her father and then the horrible Rodric who plots to win the throne and kill Kateri. Kateri makes a good heroine, admitting to mistakes and growing. Cion is the much-loved hero, strategic, and self-sacrificing. While there are no plot surprises for the seasoned reader, for the target audience it’s great. This might be their first introduction to political deception and manipulation.
This is the first book I’ve read from the Blink Imprint and I am impressed. The developing romantic relationship was handled delicately and didn’t become the focus of the story. Perfect for middle school plus audience. I’ll look for more to read from Blink and from this author. Highly recommend!
eGalley review Publication date 9.10.19