2019, Blog, Bookish, Historical, Reviews

Book Review: The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Tiger UKThey 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.

 

My Review

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

YangzeYangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. Due to a childhood spent in various countries, she can eavesdrop (badly) in several languages. After graduating from Harvard University, she worked as a management consultant and at a startup before writing her first novel. THE GHOST BRIDE, set in colonial Malaya and the elaborate Chinese world of the afterlife, is about a peculiar historic custom called a spirit marriage.

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.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo”

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