The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1)
by Julia Ember
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
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.
The Tiger’s Watch immediately intrigued me when I read the summary. I was not disappointed. Julia Ember has an incredibly mature way of writing which I absolutely love. It’s very easy to see that she’s been writing since childhood with how each character and animal in this book immediately flies off the page.
Tashi is a gender binary character, someone I had never read before and it was interesting to see how this played into the story. First and foremost was the desire to never hide their identity again and also how this was acknowledged by the characters in the book. Putting this type of representation in such a gritty and bleak war-bound scenery with magic was almost overwhelming. You immediately hit the ground running as Tashi runs for their life.
The life of the inhabitors was so fascinating as well. The way they could see through their bonded animals eyes and depend on each other immediately made me want to know more. Especially Tashi and Katala’s bond throughout the years. Inhabitors essentially grow up with their bonded animal and live two lives. It was such an amazing concept placed in a complicated world. I knew immediately after finishing that I would be reading some of Ember’s other books.
If my praise before this hasn’t sold you…this is a fast-paced, action filled, open-minded, magic filled story with exotic animals that you can explore through their eyes. I definitely recommend this book and other interesting tales from Ember as well.
About the Author
Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spends her days working in the book trade and her nights writing teen fantasy novels. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, PokemonGo and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life.
Julia is a polyamorous, bisexual writer. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens, including those organized by the Scottish Booktrust and LGBT Youth Scotland. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries. Her travels inspire the fantasy worlds she creates, though she populates them with magic and monsters.
Julia began her writing career at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, which also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Her second novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss will be released by Interlude Press in May 2017. The book was heavily influenced by Julia’s postgraduate work in Medieval Literature at The University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her total obsession with beluga whales.
In August 2017, her third novel and the start of her first series, Tiger’s Watch, will come out with Harmony Ink Press. In writing Tiger’s Watch, Julia has taken her love of cats to a new level.