3.5 star, YA

Review: Red Tigress by Amelie Wen Zhao

Series: Blood Heir Trilogy #2

Fans of Children of Blood and Bone will love the sequel to Blood Heir. The second book in an epic fantasy series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to liberate her empire from a dark reign.

Ana Mikhailov is the only surviving member of the royal family of Cyrilia. She has no army, no title, and no allies, and now she must find a way to take back the throne or risk the brutal retribution of the empress. Morganya is determined to establish a new world order on the spilled blood of non-Affinites. Ana is certain that Morganya won’t stop until she kills them all.

Ana’s only chance at navigating the dangerous world of her homeland means partnering with Ramson Quicktongue again. But the cunning crime lord has schemes of his own. For Ana to find an army, they must cross the Whitewaves to the impenetrable stone forts of Bregon. Only, no one can be certain what they will find there.

A dark power has risen. Will revolution bring peace–or will it only paint the streets in more blood.

Sometimes, bravery was not loud, or grand, or brilliant as the blaze of a thousand fires. Sometimes it was quiet. Unremarkable. Unknown. The resilient wend of water through rocks, year after year.

That, my daughter, is when you can choose to be brave.

Red Tigress, the sequel to Blood Heir, definitely does not suffer from middle book syndrome. While initially dealing with the crazy and somewhat tragic aftermath of book 1, our protagonists Ramson and Ana are both dealing with the 180 shift in power to Affinites, those with gifted abilities. However, now it seems this power change has gone too far with non-Affinites being hunted down and treated poorly for even looking at an Affinite wrong. Or if they had done nothing to save Affinites during the previous rule.

However, this book doesn’t focus super heavily on this. I kind of like that it’s setting up for something big – that being fighting Morganya and figuring out how to deal with the kingdom that’s long been divided into Affinites and non-Affinites – but not in a direct way yet. Morganya is up to something, planning something behind people’s backs that has yet to make sense. And hence, Ana and Ramson reunite to track down this mysterious plan before it can come to fruition.

Back in Ramson’s home land. Bregon, across the seas. We don’t know much about this place besides the flashbacks of his history we saw in book 1. So it was a wonderful experiencing seeing firsthand another kingdom and its secrets.

In a way, this book could almost be read as a standalone. Yes, it’s connected to book 1 and gives away big pieces from it, but you don’t feel like you can’t quickly figure things out if you’d forgotten the events of the first book (guilty as charged – it’s been a while). This book has its own contained arc, encompassing initial introduction to land and characters and peaking at the climax of the mystery surrounding Bregon and its rulership. I find that quite refreshing and definitely prevents middle book syndrome from happening because it’s not just the connection point between book 1 and 3.

The characters were just as spunky as I remembered them. Ana’s got her determination to do what’s right and best for her country, which sometimes clashes with what others think is best (aka her oldest friend leading the rebellion against the throne – which is technically Ana in the future). I was sad to see some tension there but I’m sure it’ll be fleshed out better in book 3 (I hope).

Romance was limited, but I wasn’t super unhappy with that. There’s a nice quality to slow burn chemistry sometimes and Ramson and Ana have it in spades. It’s not like nothing’s happening, but just slowly. In other enemies to lovers chemistry, Linn is still being super badass from her late introduction in book 1 and has paired up (maybe romantically in the future?) with the enemy Affinite who can prevent their use of their powers. Talk about a strange duo but these four embark on this journey together and I couldn’t be happier about it.

When all is said and done, this book does well on its own and has plenty of meat packed in there to devour until the finale drops. The pacing was good enough for the most part to keep the excitement going. Does it stand apart against the myriad of fantasies like it? I’m not sure it does, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun read if you love this genre. I look forward to book 3!

P.S. is it just me, or does anyone else sometimes confusedly refer to Ramson as Ransom?? Just me?

Overall Recommendation:

Red Tigress proved itself to be a worthy sequel following up the events of its predecessor. Not lacking any drama or excitement, it shines a light on our protagonists’ plight as they face the consequences of what happened in book 1. Now embarking on a new adventure to Ramson’s mysterious homeland, this unlikely group faces secrets, suspicion and battles they have stacked against them in their war to take back the kingdom. Sounds like fun, hmm? And with a dash of slow burn romance, this is YA fantasy at its happiest.

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