Review: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson


When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

The Tyrant's DaughterImage from GoodReads

Title: The Tyrant’s Daughter
Author: J.C. Carleson
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304 Hardcover
Copy Origin: eARC via NetGalley

I was initially very nervous to read this novel, since a story about a Middle Eastern girl written by a white woman could go so wrong in so many different ways.

However I was pleasantly surprised. Carleson doesn’t shy away from the horrific parts of Laila’s life, and there was obvious care to pay attention to detail in The Tyrant’s Daughter. The differences in culture is explored, and Laila’s is not degraded as worse or better; it simply is.

The relationship between Laila and her mother was the strongest point of the novel, and while the rest of the characters weren’t cardboard, they weren’t as interesting or as well fleshed out as that one. Laila’s mother is frankly an awesome character and by the end of the novel I was honestly in awe of her, despite the things she did.

I ended up liking The Tyrant’s Daughter more than I thought I might from the beginning chapters, which were short and sparsely written. The detail does pick up a little bit, and I’m not sorry I read the novel at all.


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Miranda works at a library and can often be seen stalking through the shelves. She lives in a house full of cats and books in the suburbanland of Oklahoma.


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