by Amélie Wen Zhao
Publication: March 2, 2021
Series: Blood Heir Trilogy #2
Warning: There may be spoilers for Blood Heir. There are some elements from Blood Heir I couldn’t help but to comment on as well. Sorry. Please proceed with caution.
**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Red Tigress picks up right after the events of Blood Heir. With a new ruler on the Cyrilian throne, Affinites are seemingly safe, except the new ruler expects loyalty from everyone. Those who refuse to submit face execution. With her people and her country in peril, Ana must seek allies to take back her throne. With Ransom Quicktongue and new friends in tow, Ana heads across the ocean for help.
Like its predecessor, Red Tigress moves along at a fast pace. Before I realized it, I was already halfway through the book. Along with the pace, I also particularly enjoyed the descriptive detail and the ending battle. Zhao’s writing is evocative, and I savored a lot of the imagery. I especially loved the descriptions of Linn taking flight and Ramson’s dip in the pool. The final conflict is detailed, a real nail-biter as the main characters fight for their lives. The ending of the book is a different story. I am not a fan of how the book concluded, and it’s made me eager to read the final book with the hope that the ending will be better.
Ana remains ruled by her emotions, impulsive and only recalling the consequences after. This leads her into a few skirmishes early on that she manages to just barely escape. Despite all she’s been through, it bothered me that she endangered her plans by not thinking ahead. This is why Ramson is crucial. He is her opposite, thinking and planning before making a move. He gives her structure and stability. Other than being the true heir to the throne and having a desire to help her people, there isn’t much to demonstrate Ana’s ability to rule. From a practical point of view, it isn’t enough that she loves her empire and the people within it, although it’s a start. While I was able to overlook it in the first book, it was difficult to do that here with so much riding on her leadership abilities. She needs to undergo a fair amount of growth before she can prove herself fit to rule. I hope the next book provides character development in this area.
The status of Ramson and Ana’s relationship was also something I was never fully on board with mostly due to how quickly it developed. I’m a hopeless romantic (albeit often cynical and yes, I know, a conundrum) and hoped for a dash of romance, but Ramson and Ana’s feelings felt more contrived than organic to the story. The switch from enemies to allies can be explained by their circumstances, but their attraction to each other felt sudden. In Red Tigress, their attraction to each other strengthens, and there’s a fair amount of tension between the them with the will they or won’t they moments. A few moments, especially one in particular, felt out of place. As much as the particular moment made me tingly, it halted the story at an inopportune moment.
May is meant to signify hope and provide Ana a purpose, but I never thought her character in Blood Heir necessary in the first place. Some of their moments and some of the things May said made me cringe. In Red Tigress, Ana often thinks about May and the promises they made, which keep Ana moving forward. I believe Ana’s plight and experiences were more than enough to spur her into action without using May as a plot device. Unless I missed something crucial, I wasn’t sure whether Empress was aware that Ana was alive. It seems like she should know because of the fliers, but that would also mean that one of Ana’s allies should be dead and the ally is not. Maybe this will be better addressed in the last book.
Red Tigress was a slightly better than average read but I couldn’t help question many of the things the characters did or did not do. The final conflict is a highlight of the novel. I look forward to the final book.