My first real book review since I don’t really read too often anymore. As a kid, I was an avid reader. Nowadays, my time is mostly spent on video games and movies. Reading this book reminded me of why I used to love reading books as a kid. It creates a world to be enchanted by in its near-endless descriptions of minute details of the world the characters exist in and the inner-workings of the characters’ thoughts. But it also reminded me why I tend to lean towards video games and movies nowadays (greater rewards in a smaller time period, and don’t make me feel sleepy as easily).
“Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions.
Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master’s dying wish: that Ren find the man’s finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.
As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths racks the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.
Yangsze Choo’s The Night Tiger pulls us into a world of servants and masters, age-old superstition and modern idealism, sibling rivalry and forbidden love. But anchoring this dazzling, propulsive novel is the intimate coming-of-age of a child and a young woman, each searching for their place in a society that would rather they stay invisible.”
Choo manages two different (but intersecting) storylines throughout and creates a handful of likable characters in the process. It was a breath of fresh air to read about a time, place, and culture vastly different than what exists in my own reality. The idea of weretigers was amazing and I want to use this idea for one of my own projects someday (I am aware that weretigers exist in multiple other works, but this is my first time really experiencing that idea).
The only sub-plot (arguably main plot) that I disliked was the forced romance between one of the main characters and her step-brother. It came off as weird and didn’t seem to make much sense in the grand scheme of things (it felt entirely pointless and the book would have been better off without it). Also, the final plot twists towards the end weren’t great, but they also didn’t come off as a giant mis-step in the same way that the forced romance did. And the ending itself was a bit underwhelming considering the previous 2 points.
Yangsze Choo crafts a mysterious and captivating tale based on Malaysian and Chinese mythology, superstition, and culture. While it is often slow-paced, it is almost never boring. Furthermore, it is rare that I care for characters in any sort of medium, but I loved the main characters here and I was truly rooting for them through everything they went through. Great read, highly recommended for people that are into mystery/supernatural stories.
8/10 – Great