Sunday, September 8, 2019

Not Nearly as Magical: The Night Tiger

As I was listening to Yangsze Choo's new book The Night Tiger, I kept waiting for the story to actually begin. I had the impression that the finding of a severed, pickled finger would just be the beginning of a supernatural adventure focused on tigers this time, rather than the ghosts and dragons of The Ghost Bride.

This felt like a second book just for the sake of one. The plot never really took off. The writing was still fine, and was probably the only thing that kept me listening, but the threads of the different characters and their connection to this severed finger (and each other) was tenuous at best, and many of those connections don't actually lead anywhere. The worst of the bunch is the white surgeon William, and his super-thin, possibly imagined connection to the boy with a ghost twin and the step-siblings who fall in love with each other. Those all-important character bonds were just not forged in a compelling way, and given how much I loved The Ghost Bride, it was disappointing.

The tiger was something that never materialized, and neither did whatever big threat the characters representing the five Confucian principles were meant to face together. Unless I missed it. The resolution to the tiger killings came from left field, and therefore was not as shocking an ending, only a confusing one that felt contrived. If it was supposed to be a metaphor for something else, I missed that too. And I'm a fairly intelligent woman.

The lesson here is this: just because you loved one book by an author doesn't mean you'll love them all. It's also another lesson in marketing a book with a tiger, and almost never showing one.

K Rating: 2/5

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