Today I have a review of The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo, now available from Flatiron Books!
We first meet 11-year-old Ren, a servant to a doctor. Before the doctor dies, he charges Ren with one request: to find his severed finger, missing from years ago, and place it with his deceased body. The doctor says there are only 49 days in which to accomplish this task, or else because his body is incomplete, and his soul will roam the earth forever.
Ji Lin is an apprentice dressmaker in 1930s Malaysia, who wants nothing more than to be a doctor, but she is forced to work secretly in a dance hall to pay her mother’s debts from Mahjong. When a dance hall partner leaves her a severed finger, Ji Lin is convinced it will bring bad luck on her family. She asks her stepbrother to help her find the owner of the finger.
The days are flying by, and a tiger is endangering the town. Around this time, Ji Lin and Ren’s paths cross, and I can say nothing more about that.
Overall, The Night Tiger is a divinely told story that reads like a realistic fairy tale. The suspense makes it a page-turner, and the history makes it so absorbing. I knew little of Maylasia’s colonial history, and I found it all fascinating. Also consuming was the Chinese folklore included and that suspenseful mystery again. The atmosphere in this book is most impactful, and I was completely lost in this story and its characters. I’ll definitely be reading The Ghost Bride by this author soon!
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
A sweeping historical novel about a dancehall girl and an orphan boy whose fates entangle over an old Chinese superstition about men who turn into tigers.
When 11-year-old Ren’s master dies, he makes one last request of his Chinese houseboy: that Ren find his severed finger, lost years ago in an accident, and reunite it with his body. Ren has 49 days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth, unable to rest in peace.
Ji Lin always wanted to be a doctor, but as a girl in 1930s Malaysia, apprentice dressmaker is a more suitable occupation. Secretly, though, Ji Lin also moonlights as a dancehall girl to help pay off her beloved mother’s Mahjong debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir: a severed finger. Convinced the finger is bad luck, Ji Lin enlists the help of her erstwhile stepbrother to return it to its rightful owner.
As the 49 days tick down, and a prowling tiger wreaks havoc on the town, Ji Lin and Ren’s lives intertwine in ways they could never have imagined. Propulsive and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores colonialism and independence, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and first love. Braided through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.
Have you read The Night Tiger, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR