28 February 2011

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Passion. Fate. Loyalty.

Would you risk it all to change your destiny?

The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

It's probably a rather silly thing to mention, but the first thing I noticed about this book is that it's heavy. I think the pages are encrusted with lead or something else incredibly weighty, because the book has a heft to it. It's worth it, though, because it gives the book such a great feel, and the cover under the jacket is simply lovely.

Inside the book is just as nice as the cover. I'll admit I was prepared to not like the story. Romances nowadays are so iffy, and there is such a fine line between a good plot with a great romance and a romance with a bare plot in YA. This one was actually very realistic, though, and had some good effect. I like that Kelsey is very comfortable with the tiger, but incredibly uncomfortable with the man he turns into, even though her brain tells her they are the same. The relationship with Kadam is great, too, a nice balance between a servant and an ageless employer. Dhiren is more ambiguous, though. It may be because we mostly see him as a tiger, or because we see him through Kelsey's eyes, but he's still rather one-dimensional and there's not a particular lot to see as an attractive man outside his looks and status. Then again, because Kelsey has trepidation about him in man form it does help with making their relationship realistic.

The other thing I really enjoyed about this book was the depth of Indian culture and religion interwoven into the plot. Then again, I'm not Indian and I don't know much about Indian culture to begin with, so I'm not a good judge of accuracy or whether the author is respecting the culture or just co-opting it. This does lead to a few problems, though. I never saw the author discuss race issues at all, which I felt was a little unsettling. There's so much in India's culture right now that glorifies white female beauty as the ideal that I'm a bit unsettled by the prince's true love and savior being a white girl from America. There's also no exploration whatsoever of the deplorable social conditions for women in India, even back in Dhiren's time, and the arranged marriage issue is glossed over as more problematic for the men involved than the woman being traded as property, so it's rather a non-issue. The girl-of-prophecy angle, though, is done in a good way, with Kelsey realizing that she doesn't have to love Dhiren, she just has to help him break the curse, so there aren't a lot of uncomfortable issues about her choice and agency being taken away.

The only other issues this book has are technical. I don't think the author really knew how to start it out because the pre-India section really drags and is rather choppy and uncompelling. The plot is good, but it halts every once in a while for some over-done descriptions that really should have been left out because they mess with the pacing a lot.

However, I don't want you to feel as if I'm completely against this book. I liked it even despite its issues (and, I'll admit, I feel guilty about liking it with the race issues that it brings up), and I will be watching for the sequels so I can continue with the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment