Blood Bound, I have a white tiger named Toran. He's a special tiger with special powers, one of which is a loyal and loving personality. The main character, Kira, forms a relationship with Toran that is destined to last a lifetime, but in the final scenes of the book, I kill him off. I've struggled with this and actually written an alternate ending where he lives.
Recently, I sent Blood Bound out to several readers to get their opinion on the storyline and what they thought would make the book better. So far, the ones that have finished it have hated me for killing off Toran. This has made me reconsider the ending, but I'm still not sure which version would better serve the next book in the series.
In The Hidden Sun, by J. Lloyd Morgan, he kills off one of the main characters without warning and it really made me mad. I'd just learned to love her and wanted her to live a happy life. But as I kept reading, I realized it was necessary for the story.
So, how do you decide who dies and who lives? Do you risk making your readers and hopefully your fans angry with you? And if you do make them mad, will they buy the next book to find out if you kill anyone else they love?