Cover Image: The Night Tiger

The Night Tiger

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Member Reviews

I couldn’t get into this book at all. The pacing was slow and the story dragged on for me, and I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters or what happened to them. I kept hearing great things, but I guess this book just wasn’t for me.
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I enjoyed this author's first book, "The Ghost Bride", which is briefly referred to in this book. The setting, 1930s Malaya, isn't often seen in my reading and it's brought vividly to life. The setting was a big plus for me.

Ji Lin was a character I bought into, as well. She's from the town of Ipoh, which is about midway between Kuala Lumpur and Penang and which I have ambitions to visit someday. She's trying to make her own way in the world and also get her mother out of some mah jong debt. This means that in addition to apprenticing to a seamstress, she's working as a dance hall girl. Her mother is married to her cruel stepfather and her stepbrother (born on the same day that she was!) is in Singapore working to become a doctor. I was invested in Ji Lin's storyline. She was plucky, sassy, smart and brave.

Ren, the eleven year old boy who was the other main character, wasn't as interesting to me. Ren was on a mission to find his recently passed master's missing finger. According to Malayan lore, a spirit lingers near its former body for 49 days. The body must be whole, or the spirit won't be able to pass on correctly and may become a ghost or evil spirit. Ren goes to a friend of his old master's, a surgeon, and becomes part of his household as he looks for the finger.

This missing finger is the McGuffin that drives the plot. Ji Lin stumbles across it, Ren is looking for it, and it seems to generate bad luck.

I was really enjoying the story, although it seemed to be moving rather slowly. Ren and Ji Lin take forever to find each other. Meanwhile, Ji Lin is being helped by her stepbrother Xin, who she seems to have feelings for and may have some for her in return?

The book shifts tone about halfway through and becomes much more about this teased romance. Ji Lin and Xin's parents REALLY don't want these two together. Now, they are step-siblings, but there's no blood relationship there. (OR is there? It seems like the author is setting things up for some sort of sequel?) It made me wonder if I was missing something or if there's a really strong taboo against even step siblings being together. But I felt like I was missing a step. I also ended up cooling off on Xin. While initially he seemed to care about Ji Lin, after her started talking about making her "his" by having sex with her I started to find him creepy.

There's a mystery to be solved here, but I'm not sure enough clues were provided other than atmosphere to solve it as a reader. So, while I loved the setting and liked some of the characters, the plot was sort of formless and veered around and I ended up feeling like the end of the book was much weaker than its beginning.
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I really enjoyed this book. It was the perfect balance of reality and folklore. The story was captivating and it was so interesting to see the individual stories come together. 

It was well written, the characters were well developed, and I felt a connection to the characters. 

My one drawback: it was a bit too long and felt that there were parts that could have been condensed without harming the plot.
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The Night Tiger is a sweeping story of magic, mystery and romance. A must read for historical fiction fans.
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Who would have thought a story around a dismembered finger could be so enthralling?  Yet Choo did exactly that, drawing on Chinese folklore and superstition to create a story of murder, mystery, and even a bit of romance.
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Atmospheric 1930's mystery swirls with the superstitions and folklore of Malaysia. A young seamstress who works a second job at a dancehall has a glass vial pressed into her hand. It contains a severed finger of unknown origin. In another town one Dr.McFarland's dying wish to his houseboy is that his long lost severed finger be found, and reunited with him in death. The plot is set in motion against the backdrop of lush jungles which surround thriving towns which teem with businesses, plantations, and hospitals, are the backdrop for murder, and the rumors of a Were tiger, lucky numbers, ghosts, twins, dreams, and Confucian virtues. The author has created a rich masterpiece of culture and history which should not be missed. Worthy of 4.5 stars.
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A book about a finger. Say what?!? I had reservations going into this one and it took me a while to read it. Not because it was hard to get through – it just kept getting pushed for no good reason.

Ji Lin is a young girl kind of feeling stuck in life. Not sure what she wants to do or who she wants to be. When a dance partner leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, she’s excited to figure out the mystery behind it!

There’s a lot of superstition and modern idealism, in this one. But not too heavy – just the right amount in my opinion. I particularly liked the coming-of-age part and the storyline of forbidden love. So unique!
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for en eARC in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. 

The Night Tiger is a murder mystery, wrapped in a fine coat of supernatural, and sprinkled with just a touch of fate. By the end, you’ll find yourself wondering what was real and what was just superstition.

This one was hard to rate, because it didn’t feel quite five stars to me. But I did immediately rush off to check out the author’s other work, so I rounded up. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My Thoughts:

- This book is just rife with the supernatural and superstitions, which lends it a really spooky atmosphere that’ll lead you to question what’s real and what’s not. There’s numerology, which is really fascinating in particular, because in Chinese, numbers sound similar to other words, and that can determine whether the number is seen positively or negatively, based on this association. There’s a hint of fate or destiny in this in that souls can be somehow bonded or fated to be together (not necessarily romantically, but just part of each other’s lives). There’s even the idea of weretigers, and the debate of whether or not a human can transform into a tiger. All of this blends quite beautifully into the historical setting to create a magical realism that seems quite plausible in the real world, for the most part.

- Being that this is historical fiction, true to the time period, the British come in and just British everything up, like they do. Colonialism has always been an ugly thing, and this book does a good job of highlighting just what that means for the local people. There’s a very thinly veiled (and sometimes blatant) line of prejudice running through this book, which is realistic but also sometimes hard to read.

- Oh, my aching misogyny. 1930s in Malaysia? Not a great time for women. This is one of those things that’s true to the time period, but also super frustrating to read because you want justice for the characters and there’s obviously just not going to be any. 

- There’s a really neat thread running through this story where all the main characters are named after Confucius’ Five Virtues. I can’t really say too much about this, because while the connection is stated early on, part of the fun is discovering just what this means for the novel.

- Move over werewolves, there’s a new beast in town, and it’s called a weretiger. Well, allegedly. My favorite thing about this is that it’s never concretely stated whether this is a thing or not. You get to decide for yourself. Like a lot of the supernatural elements in this book, it’s easy to make a case both for and against the weretiger actually existing.

Sticking Points:

- The romance was … problematic. And also a little rapey and stalkerish. I can’t really say much about it for fear of spoilers, but I didn’t have a problem with it for the same reason other people did. I was just a little creeped out by how possessive the guy was.

- The end was a little too open, where it felt like it didn’t fully conclude, and some of the plot points felt like they were left dangling a bit. I think this is a symptom of the book trying to do so dang much all at the same time, to the point where not everything felt completely finished. It almost feels like there could be a sequel, and I wouldn’t be opposed to that, but as far as I know, this was meant to be a standalone.
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The cover of this book got me before any kind of plot summary - it's beautiful! The setting here was fascinating and not one that I had read about before, which had me interested immediately. The combination of folklore and the supernatural almost always leads to a great story, and this one didn't disappoint. It was easy to cling to the characters from the very start and not put the book down until you knew what happened to them. Recommended to anyone who loves history, culture, and the supernatural.
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Ji Lin accidentally makes the find of a lifetime which puts events into place that become dangerous for some and deadly for others. Ren, a young boy, is on the hunt for what Ji Lin has found. It was his master’s dying wish to find it. After her accidental find, Ji Lin then desperately tries to set things right with the help of magical dreamscapes as well as friends and family she’s known for years and others that are revealed to her within a magical dreamscape.

The book has a beautifully written opening (below) that paints the setting so perfectly and is very well-written.
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Set in 1930’s Malaysia, The Night Tiger is about a boy on a mission to find a lost finger for his former employer, and the young woman moonlighting as a dancehall girl to pay off her mother’s debts who pickpockets one off a customer. What comes next is a beautiful and at times heartbreaking story as the reader follows the characters over the next 49 days. Steeped in Chinese folklore and history, The Night Tiger is a mystery with a dash of romance and a hint of the supernatural. I adored Ji Lin and Ren, two of the main characters, who stole my heart from the first. There is so much to love about The Night Tiger, from its depth of character, it’s natural tie-in of the historical and political climate of the times as well as cultural superstitions and traditions, and the twists and turns the author took the various threads of the story. Yangsze Choo has proven again what an amazing author she is.
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This was an enjoyable read. The peek into 1930s Malay culture was fascinating. I don't really feel that I can say a lot without giving too much away, but I enjoyed the connections the characters had with each other. This is one I'd like to reread.

Thanks to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for a copy of the ARC.
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As with her previous novel, Yangsze Choo gets an A for Atmosphere. Her depiction of 1930s Malaya is so rich and evocative, it makes me want to be there. The characters, especially Ji Lin, a smart and resourceful girl with thwarted ambitions, are also excellent. The way that Choo weaves seemingly disparate plot elements together is deft and delightful. The magic is kept to a minimum, too good effect. And a particular romance trope used here is right up my alley too. This is a book that I won't soon forget!

My only issue is that the whole thing can come off a little bit twee, not only in a way that's common to magical realism, but also in a way that doesn't always match the darker and dare I say grislier plot points such as murder and dismemberment-by-tiger. It's difficult to balance tone and content in a tale like this, and the balance is not always achieved.
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I really enjoyed this book - a clever narrative, a plot full of twists with characters whose very names invoked wonderful and meaningful imagery... this was a real joy to read. The layering of the five virtues and weretiger narratives alongside the alternating perspectives of Ren and Ji Lin was really effective and well done. I also enjoyed the perspective this shared on the experience of colonialism in Malaya, and some of the social context to this point in time in that society (the dance halls and marital expectations, for example).
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This is one of the most devastatingly beautiful books I have read in a while.  I was absolutely entranced by it; I couldn't put it down but I desperately didn't want it to end. I had to force myself to slow down several times, but I still flew right through it.  Not only was the writing beautifully descriptive, but the mystery was so intriguing.  I loved the way the author wove in folklore and a slight mystical element.  The result was spooky and haunting in the most beautiful way. I cannot wait to read more of her work.

A few other things I needed to come back and add to my review:

I have a severe book hangover right now, which I think is the mark of a truly great story.  I really felt like I was there, in a time and place I have never been.  I absolutely loved Ren, he was one of my favorite parts of this story.  The characters' personalities shone through the words so well, and my heart aches for each of them.  I have a feeling I will think of them often, and I wonder what happens next to them in their lives.  Do yourself a favor and stop reading the reviews and just go buy this beautiful book.
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Ji Lin is an apprentice dressmaker, who also, works as a dancehall girl. Someone has to pay off her mother's debts. When one of her dance partners leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, she might get an adventure that she won't comeback from. This is one of the most descriptive beautiful books that I have ever read. To find out about the Night Tiger and it's history, you should definitely read this book. I loved it and will recommend it to all my friends. I received this amazing book from Net Galley and Flat iron Books for a honest review.
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I was a huge fan of Choo’s 2013 novel [book:The Ghost Bride|16248223], so I was eagerly looking forward to her latest novel, [book:The Night Tiger|39863482]. This book has much in common with Ghost Bride - a lush Malaysian setting and a plot with an intriguing mix of Asian fantasy and historical fiction.

There are two main storylines here, which take place in Malaysia in 1931. The first belongs to Ji Lin and is told in the first person. Ji Lin is a young woman working as an apprentice in a dressmaker’s shop. She is also secretly working part-time at the May Flower Dance hall as a dance girl, which is not considered an appropriate job for respectable young women. Ji Lin needs the extra income to help pay off her mother’s mahjong gambling debts before her stern stepfather finds out. The second storyline is told in the third person and belongs to Ren, an eleven year servant assigned a task by his dying master. Ren  must find and recover his master’s severed finger in the 49 days it will take his master’s consciousness to travel from one life to the next and bury it with his body so he can be whole in the afterlife. 

Ji Lin and Ren’s journies unfold and eventually come together, but it’s very complicated. Lots and lots of extraneous characters, story threads, mysterious events and dreams to keep track of. There is also a very “young adult” feeling romance at the heart of this novel that was distracting. For some reason, I kept harking back to “Sailor Moon” or “Howl’s Moving Castle” – the romance felt very anime-ish, with the intrepid and innocent young woman swooning over the shaggy, dark-haired doomed but valiant hero.

I also thought there were too many moving parts, and the threads of all the backstories and characters didn’t get wrapped up as neatly as I would have liked. In short, just too much of everything. A little story-pruning by an editor would have gone a long way here.

A 3.5 for me, but rounding down for a missed opportunity. There is much to like here – very atmospheric with some memorable characters and moments, but a less than cohesive whole.

Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for an ARC of this novel. My review, however, is based on the hardcover version.
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Rin is an eleven-year-old houseboy to a doctor. Ji Lin is an apprentice dressmaker working at a dancehall to pay off her mother's debts. Neither of them realize that their fates are intertwined, until they are brought together by mysterious man's missing finger. Set in 1930s Malaysia, this historical mystery is full of intrigue, superstition, fantastical rumors, and more.

There is much to love about the book. The fantastical and historical elements are wonderful, and the unwinding of the story kept me engaged throughout. I could have done without the rather bizarre romance element, but otherwise thoroughly enjoyed it. The Night Tiger will transport you to a magical world in a different time - great for escapist reading!
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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.
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It took me quite a few pages to get into this book. Once I did I very much enjoyed the characters Ren and JiLin.
The blend of historical fiction, love story and ancient Chinese superstitions  held my interest.
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