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The Night Tiger: A Novel Hardcover – February 12, 2019
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
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I also read The Ghost Bride, and I enjoyed this one more.
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I had originally received an eARC from Quercus Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, I quickly found myself loving the novel and so bought a hardback copy and its matching audiobook, narrated by the author.
‘The Night Tiger’ is a rich work of historical fiction combined with magical realism, which draws on the mythology and folklore of Malaysia. The novel alternates between two narrative streams both set in colonial Malaya in the 1930s.
In the first, Ren, an eleven-year-old Chinese boy, is sent as a bequest by his deceased master to serve as a house-boy to a British doctor. Ren has been tasked with finding his old master’s severed finger and reuniting it with his body within 49 days. If he fails to do this in time his master’s soul will be condemned to wander the earth forever.
In the second, Ji-Lin works as an apprentice dressmaker and also moonlights as a dance hall girl in order to pay off her mother’s gambling debts. When one of her dance partners accidentally leaves her a gruesome souvenir (no prizes for guessing what this is) it leads her on her own journey. In the background are a number of mysterious deaths among rumours of a were-tiger.
The spiritual aspect of this novel spoke very powerfully to me, including the use of dreams as a way of interacting with the unseen. It also addressed the society that Ren and Ji-Lin were part of. The pressure was especially acute for Ji-Lin , who was expected to marry and not pursue an education. Add to this the secrecy necessary to hide her dance hall work from her family.
I grew very fond of the characters and was invested in their respective fates. The novel does also contain a degree of intrigue and romance. I felt that the two narratives were beautifully woven together with lyrical descriptions that brought the setting vividly to life.
I loved it and certainly plan to recommend widely. My thanks to Quercus Books for the opportunity to take part in this fascinating online event.
We learn about ancient Confucian beliefs about the five virtues, and how the characters in the book are named after them. The plot also involves a great deal of Malayan and Chinese numerology and superstition – and, unlike crime novels, in which the crime is disclosed at the beginning of the book even if the perpetrator is not, this book reveals the crime towards the end of the novel. It is amazing how the author piles on mystery after mystery without losing her readers. It is very well-written, fluent and stunning, and one can read without stopping for food.
This is a sampling from the first pages, for a glimpse into the style of Yangsze Choo’s writing: ‘Forty-four is an unlucky number for Chinese. It sounds like “die, definitely die”, and as a result, the number four and all its iterations are to be avoided. On the ill-fated day in June, I’d been working at my secret part-time job at the May Flower Dance Hall in Ipoh for exactly forty-four days.’
HAVING LIVED IN HONG KONG AND SINGAPORE IT HAD
PARTICULAR SIGNIFICANCE FOR ME. I AM ALSO ABOUT
TO VISIT MALAYSIA AGAIN. THESE COUNTRIES WITH THEIR UNIQUE TRADITIONS AND SUPERSTITIONS ARE FASCINATING AND THIS WONDERFUL STORY BROUGHT IT ALL ALIVE.
The characters were all of interest but Ren was key to the whole book, a lovely boy who is driven by his conscience and commitment to his employers. I loved the twist of the ending .
Read it !