A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Night Tiger by Yangzse Choo- Feature and Review


Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick, Amazon Spotlight Pick for Best Book of the Month, NYTimes and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller. Starred Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher's Weekly reviews.

A sweeping historical novel about a dancehall girl and an orphan boy whose fates entangle over an old Chinese superstition about men who turn into tigers.

When 11-year-old Ren's master dies, he makes one last request of his Chinese houseboy: that Ren find his severed finger, lost years ago in an accident, and reunite it with his body. Ren has 49 days, or else his master's soul will roam the earth, unable to rest in peace.

Ji Lin always wanted to be a doctor, but as a girl in 1930s Malaysia, apprentice dressmaker is a more suitable occupation. Secretly, though, Ji Lin also moonlights as a dancehall girl to help pay off her beloved mother's Mahjong debts. One night, Ji Lin's dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir: a severed finger. Convinced the finger is bad luck, Ji Lin enlists the help of her erstwhile stepbrother to return it to its rightful owner.

As the 49 days tick down, and a prowling tiger wreaks havoc on the town, Ji Lin and Ren's lives intertwine in ways they could never have imagined. Propulsive and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores colonialism and independence, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and first love. Braided through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.



The Night TigerThe Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo is a 2019 Flatiron publication.

A big, bold story full of magic, romance, mystery and adventure!!

Set in Malaysia during the 1930’s, the story alternates between Ren, an eleven -year old Chinese houseboy and Ji Lin, a young woman who has been forced to give up her goal of working in the medical profession. Ren is on a mission to find his late master’s finger so he can return it to his grave. Failure to do so within 49 days will prevent his master from resting in peace. Meanwhile, Ji Lin, is working as a dressmaker, while also secretly moonlighting as a dance hall girl to pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts, before her hardened stepfather finds out.

When Ji Lin comes into possession of a severed finger, she implores her stepbrother, Shin, to help her return it to its rightful owner. Thus, Ji Lin and Ren’s lives will begin to converge. While the clock ticks away within the 49 -day time frame, a tiger is on the prowl wreaking havoc on the city of Malaysia.

There is a lot going on in this book and because it’s not exactly my usual fare, I was forced to take my time and slowly absorb all the details patiently, as the pieces of the puzzle begin to click into place. I found myself completely caught up in the story, in the folklore and magic realism, the family dramas and mystery. I was loath to put the book aside, but still wanted to draw it out and relish the tension and adventure.

Unfortunately, I did have a few issues with the book. One thing I noticed was some repetitiveness in the dialogue. It was especially noticeable when I was listening to portions of the book on audio.

The other problem I had was that while I placed a hold on both the e book and the audiobook at my library at the same time, the audio version became available first. However, I had to pause the audio until the e book became available because I found it very difficult to follow along. The author narrates the book, but the inflections and voice changes were not strong enough or distinct enough for me, and the switch in narratives often caught me off guard. Once I had a digital copy of the book, however, the story came to life and I was able to switch between reading and listening seamlessly.

I love historical fiction, but rarely reach for books with magical realism elements. I’m a little picky about that genre but do enjoy it from time to time. I do love folklore, though, so in this case, the two genres complement one another beautifully. Now, I’m wondering why I don’t read more of these types of books and am thinking maybe I should lower my defenses and try reading more of them. I will definitely check out Choo’s first novel and anything she writes in the future.

This book should appeal to a broad audience as it embodies several different popular genres and creates an insular world with its intense urgency and emotional content. While I did read some stellar reviews for this book, I couldn’t have imagined what kind of journey I was about to embark on, but it is a journey I will not soon forget.






Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. Due to a childhood spent in various countries, she can eavesdrop (badly) in several languages. After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant before writing her first novel. Yangsze eats and reads too much, and often does both at the same time. You can follow her blog at http://yschoo.com/ or on Twitter @yangszechoo

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