Today I’m so excited to share my review of The Lady or the Lion by Aamna Qureshi. I’ve written this review on pure adrenaline and my tears, because yes I cried— MULTIPLE times. But let’s get on with the review now 😭
About the Book
Title: The Lady or the Lion
Author: Aamna Qureshi
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: OUT NOW!
Publisher: CamCat Books
For trigger warnings click HEREsuicide (mentioned), murder, contagious disease, racism, classism, manipulation, dysfunctional family, death of loved ones, murder of a child, neocolonialism
Retells “The Lady or the Tiger?” against a Pakistan-inspired world of forbidden love and court intrigues.
Once there was a princess forced to choose a fate for her lover – to a future in the arms of a beautiful lady, or to death in the mouth of a lion? But what came first was the fate she would choose for herself.
As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar’s gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. Enter Ambassador Asfandyar Afridi, a wry foreigner who admits outright that he is a spy. Stubborn, proud, and suspicious of foreigners, Durkhanai does not appreciate that he won’t bow to her every whim and instead talks circles around her.
And yet, she has to make him her ally to expose those truly responsible for the attack as more ambassadors from neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each one of them with their own agenda and reasons to hide the truth.When a mysterious illness spreads through the village and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must sort through the ever shifting loyalties at court and her growing feelings for Asfandyar. Will she be able to leave the antics of a spoiled princess behind and become what her people need – a queen?
From the very first page till the very end I was captivated by The Lady or the Lion. The poetic writing and beautiful prose was one of the aspects that really made me love this book so much— I’m not even kidding, the amount of times I giggled like an idiot or cried is not funny. The setting was of course beautiful, and wonderfully portrayed! The beautiful descriptions of the lush land of Marghazar made me feel like I was actually experiencing it all for myself.
The plot was really well paced, there wasn’t a single moment that I wasn’t invested in the story. I think one of the reasons for this was because the characters were so well fleshed out and developed!
I’m just going to say it— I loved Durkhanai so much. I do not care if she was a spoiled princess, she literally deserves everything in the world and I will protect her at all costs. She was such a great character too, she was so attached to her family, she was emotional, she was also sharp, stubborn, and cared about her people a lot— I mean if this doesn’t make you fall in love with her then I don’t know what is.
Asfandyar— the love interest was just so charming, and amazing, and funny LIKE I cannot talk about his and Durkhanai’s dynamic without physically screaming my lungs out alright? Their romance was forbidden, but that made me root for them even more, and I loved every single aspect about it. All the characters were really well developed— even the side characters like Dhadi and Agha-Jaan. The ending was just— we do not talk about it, we only talk about the fact THAT BOOK 2 IS NO MORE A WANT, IT IS A NEED. I just— *incoherent screaming*
I also want to point out the fact that this book made my desi heart so happy because of the entire setting, the mention of chai and samosas, and the usage of phrases that I could understand 😭
In conclusion The Lady or the Lion is a stunning debut featuring a forbidden romance, court intrigue, a setting inspired by Pakistan, and is going to make any South Asian reader fall in love with it! It is a must read, I recommend it to everyone right now, go run and read it !!!
Do you like books with court intrigue? What are your favourite desi fantasy books? Drop them in the comments below!!
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed the review and are wanting to check this book out!