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Red Tigress by Amelie Wen Zhao #BookReview

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.

Red Tigress by Amelie Wen Zhao

Title: Red Tigress | Series: Blood Heir Trilogy | Author: Amelia Wen Zhao | Publisher: Delacorte | Pub Date: 02/03/2021 | Pages: 448 | ISBN13: 9780525707851 | Genre: YA Fantasy | Language: English | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review

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Red Tigress Review

I finished Blood Heir and plunged right into the review copy of Red Tigress provided via NetGalley, and I wasn’t disappointed. Red Tigress is an action-packed story that sent my heart into my throat and made my head spin. I thought I had some idea of where the story might go, but never guessed the way the plot would unfold. The plot is relentless and the characters are real and vibrant, and compel us to root for them. 

Amelie Wen Zhao builds on her storytelling strengths from book 1. She gives us more POV characters and uses the POV shifts to build suspense and weave strands of the plot together effectively. This allows us access to multiple settings, which are fleshed out. I never felt like I was stepping into nothingness; the author paints clear images of the settings without overdoing the descriptions and stopping the action.

Wen Zhao also effectively develops the motives of each POV character. She effectively writes between the lines, hinting at feelings and thoughts and confirming them through actions when appropriate. This part of the storytelling worked effectively for me, because it built up my anticipation. It also allowed us to speculate about some characters’ true intentions, because there were reasons to distrust them. This approach added to the tension and paid off with revelations that affected the plot. 

One of the real strengths of this series comes from the two primary characters. Ana is the sole surviving member of Cyrilia’s royal family and is determined to reclaim the throne and save her people from slaughter. Ramson is the bastard son of the navy Admiral from a country to the south. While Ana’s been raised to be a leader, Ramson has spent years as a criminal, doing what he must to survive. They might sound like opposites when viewed superficially, but they’re fleshed out, and it’s soon apparent they have more in common than one might think. Ana is an Affinite, which means she has a unique power. Her ability involves blood, and when it manifested the first time she unintentionally killed several people. Consequently, she was shut away and isolated from the public, and ultimately had to flee when she was framed for her father’s murder. Her isolation and regret fuels her self-loathing. During book 1, she has to learn to understand that it isn’t having a special power that defines her. What matters is what she does with that power.

Ramson has also experienced rejection and loss. His complex relationship with his biological father has fueled his actions for years, and he’s determined to think only of himself to survive. His father taught him love makes you weak. He shields himself from commitments and promises, but he also doesn’t want to be like his father.

Together, Ana and Ramson are two broken individuals who are making critical decisions about who they are and who they want to be. They’re both confronted by pain and regret, and they both have things about themselves they despise. The thought of a criminal bastard and the heir to the throne being friends may seem unrealistic, but they slowly build a genuine friendship throughout the first book, and that friendship grows in the second book. There’s a strong foundation of trust that develops between them, and in their own way, they help each other heal. 

They also continue to grow as individuals in book 2. Ana’s confronted by questions about leadership and the kind of leader she’d be, and she must assess her own goals and motives to determine what’s best for Cyrilia’s future. 

In book 1, Ana and Ramson’s journey took her to her childhood home, so it’s only fitting that book 2 would take us to Ramson’s nation and force him to confront his father and half-sister. Their quest may seem simple enough, but a lot’s changed in Ransom’s homeland since he departed, and unseen dangers threaten Ana’s mission and their lives. I don’t want to give away what happens. It was earned in the text, but the author still made some shocking revelations. 

I also really enjoyed getting to spend more time with Linn and seeing her character grow. I hope we get to spend plenty of time with Linn and Kais in book 3.

Blood Heir effectively offered resolution of a primary objective, while setting the stage for the developments in Red Trigress. As book 2 in a trilogy, Red Tigress sets the stage for what’s to come in the third and final installment in the Blood Heir Trilogy. There’s still a sense of resolution because the clearly established objective has been met, but there’s the promise of what’s to come as well. 

The ending left me both satisfied and heartbroken that I’ll have to wait another year to find out what happens to Ana, Ramson, and the other characters. 

You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.

Content Warning:

Child death.

Published inBook ReviewsStarred Reviews

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