Friday, July 11, 2014

July 2014 Book Review: Tiger's Curse


 By Colleen Houck

~Book Review~

***Warning! Spoilers, Includes Review of Tiger’s Curse and Overview of Series as a Whole!***

I’M NOT GONNA LIE, I’m not a fan of Kelsey Hayes. This is problematic, since she is the heroine of the Tiger’s Curse series.  There are currently five books in counting, which take place primarily in India and Oregon. There are tiger shape-shifters, love triangles, cunning dragons, and Indiana Jones-style puzzles. The world-building and bits of Hindu lore are intriguing enough to invest your time in this series. Don’t expect to become an expert on Hindu mythology—in her Frequently Asked Question section, author Colleen Houck discusses how her mythology is a “westernized” version—but the plot is entertaining, and the supporting characters endearing. Just resign yourself to the fact that you will be doing a lot of eye-rolling over Kelsey’s attitude/actions.

Kelsey lands a pretty cool job at a circus in Oregon, where she is assigned to take care of a rare white tiger. Little does she know that the tiger is actually a cursed 300-year-old Indian prince named Ren, or that she has a role to play in fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will free Ren and his black tiger brother, Kishan. However, the evil magi Lokesh who cursed the princes is pretty keen on making sure they stay ferocious jungle beasts with a liking for poetry and cookies.

Let’s get the Kelsey part out of the way first. The goddess Durga chooses her to be “The Chosen One” who will lead her forces against Lokesh. Kelsey gets hooked up with Fanindra, a golden snake arm bracelet who can come to life (and saves her butt many times), and the Golden Fruit, so they never have to worry about running out of food. As the series progress, Kelsey becomes more unlikeable and unrelatable as the “perfect” Chosen One. 

Tiger’s Curse has an exciting introduction, but it really gets bogged down in the middle as Kelsey wanders around the jungle. Eventually she and Ren start communicating properly and orient themselves to complete their quest to recover the first of Duraga’s artifacts. The story delivery is entertaining when it comes to action, but there are excessive info-dumps. Mr. Kadam is the biggest offender. Since Kelsey has zero prior knowledge of Hindu lore, her wealthy mentor spends pages lecturing her, and it comes off as tedious.

As far as the romance goes, Kelsey often acts like an idiotic plot device in order to further the tension/make poor Kishan think he has a chance in the love triangle. I’m not sure what either of the brothers fell in love with, since Kelsey has a flawlessly bland personality and is known for telling people off by way of: “Mister! How dare you!” As we all know, “mister” is often used in a teenager’s vocabulary. Whimsical poet Ren manages to stay relatively true to his character throughout the love triangle woes, but “badass” Kishan loses his fire and becomes steadily more dependent on Kelsey’s every whim—a mindless moon caught in her orbit. It made him lose a lot of appeal to me, and by Book 3, I honestly didn’t care who Kelsey ended up with. That helped soften the “twist” that resolves the love triangle in Book 4.

Each book in the Tiger series features 1) more or less romantic angst between Kelsey and the two brothers, and 2) and Kelsey & Co (Ren, Kishan, her mentor Mr. Kadam, and Mr. Kadam’s  great+ granddaughter Nilima, who I wish more was done with) tracking down Durga’s gifts, which are four artifacts of great power. Lokesh the villain is the epitome of cartoonish evil. See what I mean about the Indiana Jones-feel? Here’s my synopsis of the books:

(These covers are so epic)

Book 1: Tiger’s Curse: Recommended. Exciting, fresh, potential.

Book 2: Tiger’s Quest: Ok. Rehashed plotline except featuring Kishan as main love interest.

Book 3: Tiger’s Voyage: AWESOME. They have to outwit/befriend these different types of dragons and it’s sooo cool! Give me dragons and I’m easily won over.

Book 4: Tiger’s Destiny: Final battle type book. I liked, but Kelsey is intolerably holier-than-thou in this one.

Book 5: Tiger’s Dream (Forthcoming): Probably skip, since I was more interested in world-building than romance resolution. Guess we’ll have to see.

Recommended for fans of: Sarah Fine, Amanda Sun, Kiersten White
Upcoming Book Review: Well, if you haven’t heard of it yet, there is a new YA book out featuring *Korean* mythology that I’ve been dying to get my hands on: Gilded by Christian Farley. So that is plan.

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