book review

The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember || ARC Review

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher (through NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Julia Ember

Title: The Tiger’s Watch

           ( Ashes of Gold #1 )

Author: Julia Ember

Published: 22. August 2017

Edition: Harmony Ink Press

                Kindle Edition, 180 pages

Genre: Fantasy | Young Adult


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.

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◄ 2.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ►

I am really conflicted with my feelings for this book. It took me the longest time to figure out the star rating and that’s not something that usually happens to me. There were some aspects of this book that I really enjoyed and some that I very much disliked. It took me also the longest time to actually finish this book (even though it was rather short), as I never felt like picking it up.

The premise for this book sounded fascinating. I was really interested in seeing the bonds between the humans and their animals, it also interested me to see the world in which such a bond exists. Sadly this book didn’t deliver on that front. I feel as if the world-building was poorly executed. Everything was way too vague and I had more questions by the end of it than answers. World-building is one of the main aspects of a fantasy book, in my opinion, and I just feel that in this one nothing wasn’t developed enough – the world, the culture, the magic.

I felt that the plot was lacking as well. At some points I didn’t even see the point of the plot. I just don’t feel as if it was explained and developed enough, which caused me to not get the point of the war, the fighting and everything else that was happening. Then a personal problem that I had with it is the monastery part. I tend to strongly dislike books that take place in monasteries for some reason. I have never read a monastery setting that I have enjoyed. That was more of a ‘it’s me not you’ case for this book as well.

Tashi was a fascinating character. They were unlike the usual fantasy lead character. By which I mean that they weren’t portrayed as the strongest or bravest, rather they had their flaws and were insecurities about many things. It was very refreshing to read from their perspective. While I enjoyed that aspect of Tashi’s character, I was very frustrated with them as well. They just made so many decisions that I thought were naive and plain stupid – honestly that’s one of the things that annoyed me the most.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this book for me was the relationship between Tashi and Katala, their bonded animal. It was amazing to see how much they cared about each other and how far they were ready to go to protect one another. The other relationships in this book I didn’t care much about. There is a love triangle in this, which I neither expected nor enjoyed. I don’t feel that Tashi’s relationship with either love interest was developed enough, or rather that there weren’t enough meaningful conversations between them to get me interested.

Overall this book had a very interesting premise, but ultimately I was disappointed. Personally I don’t plan on reading the sequel to this book, simply because I’m not interested in it. This is a book that I both recommend and don’t. I recommend it for the unique protagonist and their relationship with their bonded animal, but I don’t recommend it for the plot or the world.

Have you read The Tiger’s Watch? What did you think of it?

Thank you very much for reading and I hope that you have an amazing day!


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16 thoughts on “The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember || ARC Review

  1. Great review Anna so sorry this one was disappointing for you! I liked Ember’s other book The Seafarer’s Kiss but it wasn’t mind blowing or anything and I was seeing this book around a lot. I like the idea of reading another fantasy with a genderfluid protagonist and I’m all about animal companions but that’s a bummer about the plot and world building because when it comes to fantasy I NEED good world building! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Heather! 😀 And yeah it’s too bad that it disappointed me, I expected to enjoy it a lot. I was really interested in The Seafarer’s Kiss, as I have never read a mermaid book and it sounded amazing. Now I’m unsure of picking it up, maybe some time in the future when I have distanced myself from this book. (And the disappointment I felt.) I completely agree, a fantasy book NEEDS good world-building to work and this book fell flat on that front.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really appreciate your honest and candid review, Anna! It sounds like while this book disappointed you on a few fronts, you can easily see how it would appeal to many others. I’ve heard mixed reviews– and a lot of the complaints are similar to your own. The love triangle is a bit overdone and unwanted, the world building was poorly executed, etc. That said, I’m still going to read this someday. I am super intrigued by the premise. And bonded animals?! Yes please!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed my review! 🙂 Yeah, sadly this book was disappointing to me. I just expected a lot from it, as it sounded amazing. I hope you enjoy it a lot more than I did, whenever you get around to it! The bonded animals aspect was definitely my favourite part of this book!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s always rough when you read a book and see the potential of “what could have been”, but just kind of wind up finding it . . . lacking? Such a shame. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the book as much as you were hoping to. The premise definitely did sound interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Man.. That is unfortunate. World-building is definitely the most crucial part of any fantasy books for me too. One that leaves me with WAY too many questions by the end will surely lose my interest quickly. Unless the author planned to leave a bunch of questions for readers to find answers for in its sequel… but even then.. the first book has to be at least satisfying… I do love the sound of that relationship between Tashi and Katala though. Human and animal bonding is probably a weakness for me too hahah Great review though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree, world-building is one of the most crucial parts of a fantasy book for me as well. That’s why I had so many problems with this one. I think this book was just too short, it’s only 180 pages long. It would definitely have benefited to be longer and the world could have been explored more that way. Exactly, I just don’t feel like picking up the sequel even though it might expand on the things I had problems with. The relationship between them was amazing! Haha, it’s the same for me – I just love human and animal bonding. Thank you!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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