They say a tiger that devours too many humans can take the form of a man and walk among us…
In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.
Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.
As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.
An absolutely sumptuous novel that mixes mythology, culture, philosophy and love.
When I saw the cover of this book and heard there was some magical realism involved I was sold! Then when I learned it was in the 1930’s not so much….I really struggle with historical fiction, especially when it’s set in a foreign country. I read the first few chapters and liked the two main characters I came across, so thought I’d carry on and I was just swept away.
The setting is dark, close and mysterious like you would imagine a tropical place to be and the narrative pulls you under without you even realising. Choo’s dreamy prose feel effortless to read, but what I loved most about this book was the characterisation. Ren, a young houseboy, is just my favourite! He’s so innocent, pure, hard-working and real. Ji-Lin is a feisty girl, who is desperate to help her mother, even if it means damaging her own reputation and Shin, I must admit, made my knees a bit weak at times.
During reading set chapters I participated in a online reading group that we followed on Twitter & Instagram called #NightTigerTogether, with fellow reviews, people from Quercus and the author herself! This was such a treat. To be able to discuss what you have just read, ask the author questions and gain other people’s unique perspective made me enjoy the book in many different ways than if I has just read it “alone”. I very much recommend this method for online groups.
I don’t want to give too much away but if you enjoy your characters well-rounded and complicated, with a bit of magical realism thrown in, you can’t go far wrong with this.
About the Author
Yangsze lives in California with her husband, two children, and a potential rabbit. She loves to eat and read, and often does both at the same time.
Follow her on twitter @yangszechoo
Massive thanks to Quercus and especially @anabooks for asking me to be a part of this amazing group of reviewers and bloggers. I especially loved reading along with everyone on twitter with #NightTigerTogether.
Bookish love & thanks for reading.