Tashi is an inhabitor, someone who’s life is bonded to an animal that allows them to see and act through that animal’s body. When the invading Myeik army destroys the capital, Tashi and their friend Pharo flee to a monastery–that the enemy turns into a hospital.
Why this book?: Julia Ember, and a genderfluid MC. Also, it sounds badass.
I would like to thank Julia Ember and Harmony Ink Press for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Be prepared for this review, because it’s basically just going to be a ton of gushing for the story and Julia.
I have to admit that I had high expectations for this one ever since I heard about it, which was around the time that I had read Unicorn Tracks. In absolutely no ways did this one disappoint. In fact, it blew me away. The Tiger’s Watch was everything I was hoping for, with a genderfluid protagonist, found families, slowburn romance, and badass magic. And that’s not even going into Julia’s writing, which was beautiful.
The idea of the inhabitors was really interesting, and I loved everything about them. Julia would add small pieces of lore about the inhabitors or the setting, but they were never info-dumps. She included the information as apart of the story, and not something that needs to explain everything all at once to make sure someone understands the story. Julia is a master at not only crafting a world that seems real, but also characters that will wiggle their way into your heart no matter how despicable they are. I immediately fell in love with Tashi, Pharo, Xian, and even old Ugyen. And don’t even get me started on Katala!
The writing was perfect for the story. It was simple and, yet, so so so beautiful. Having read all three of Julia’s books, I love and am amazed at how developed it is.
ALSO (I can’t believe I nearly forgot this) I LOVED the talk about consent and ‘ownership’. Tashi was so FIRM about what they needed and wanted, and it was so refreshing and I loved it.
I love how Tashi’s genderfluidity was displayed. There were mulitple times when Tashi says that they were in a more feminine mood, and would rather wear a dress, or a masculine mood and liked the square cut of the military uniform. While Tashi was misgendered a few times, they were always defended and the person corrected themself. Julia isn’t genderfluid herself, but I am very impressed and grateful for her recent dedication to non-binary representation.
Considering people have said this for another novel with a genderfluid protagonist, I have to say this. Tashi’s genderfluidity had absolutely nothing to do with the plot, and it’s never explained or anything. And I loved it. I reveled in it. Because they aren’t genderfluid to ‘teach’ people about it, no. Tashi is genderfluid because that’s who they are. Someone’s gender doesn’t have to play a role in a novel because it’s different, because we [non-binary people] don’t exist to educate.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
This, in all honesty, is probably my favorite book of Julia’s. Genderfluid protagonist. Big cats. Badass magic. Queer characters. People of color. Questionable choices!!
And then there’s also the honesty behind the genderfluidity, the amazing writing, and infuriating (yet lovable) characters.
Would I Recommend?
Yes. I don’t think I could not recommend this book. Only if you’re uncomfortable with any of the triggers listed below, than I would highly, HIGHLY, recommend this book to anyone and everyone. And everyone’s best friends.
Trigger warning for misgendering, violence, moderate gore, abuse, and animals in a war situation.
Published: August 22nd, 2017
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Page Count: 180
Synopsis: via Goodreads
Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, 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 inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.