Title: The Night Tiger
Author: Yangsze Choo
Genre: Historical Fiction
Narrated By: Yangsze Choo
Length: 14 hours, 8 minutes
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: February 12, 2019
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Trigger Warnings: Spousal Abuse, Step-sibling Romance,
Shooting of a Child, Deaths, Dismemberment, Miscarriages
First, I want to say thank you so much to Sammie @ The Writerly Way for doing a buddy read with me for this book. Stay tuned for our discussion post, because trust me – I have a lot to say about this. I’m actually trying to figure out how to put all of my thoughts into words where it won’t spoil it, so bear with me.
Ji Lin (Louise) works as a dancehall instructor when she’s not busy with her apprenticeship. The only reason she took this job was to help her mother pay off her mahjong debts, which is a lot to pay off without the help of her stepfather. There were times where I was just very thrown off by her thoughts, and some of her actions when it came to her stepbrother Shin, but I appreciated the fact that she was trying to do whatever she could to help her mother. She really wants to be a doctor or work in the medical field, but being a woman in 1930s Malaysia, it’s something that’s unthinkable. She does not want to be a nurse, so that’s not an option.
Ren is an orphaned boy who not only lost his twin brother but has to uproot his life because his previous “master” died. Ren seems to have “cat sense” where he can see certain things that other people can’t, like if someone had recently cheated death and can somehow travel back and forth between the spirit world. I don’t think he can do that on purpose, but it may have something to do with his twin brother. Ren is a boy that has bad things happen around him and to him, and he’s just trying to survive. He’s a sweetheart.
Shin is Ji Lin’s stepbrother. Ever since their parents married when Ji Lin was 10 years old, he’s been in her life. There were times when he would be mean to her, and just completely ignore her. Although, as an adult, there are some feelings that come to light during this novel that are considered questionable. He works as an orderly in a hospital not that far away from the house he grew up in, and he has occasionally helped Ji Lin with her missions throughout the book.
William is the new “master” of Ren, who also works in the medical field. He also seems to be a player, as there are many women that have fallen for him and want to be with him. Death also seems to follow him because of his actions, and he doesn’t know whether or not it’s his power or something else.
Honestly I don’t think I had a favorite character throughout this novel. If I had to choose, it would probably be Ren because he worked so hard – although he lied about his age – and just did his best to fulfill his last master’s last wishes to save his soul. Things happened to him that wasn’t his fault and he suffered a lot. I hope he gets a happy ending after all of that. Everyone else was problematic for me.
Ren has to move after his old master dies, but his old master gives him a final task: find his severed finger and return it to his body before his soul is forced to roam the Earth, unable to rest. Ren is such a good boy that he does everything in his power to do this. I wouldn’t even know where to start to look for this dude’s severed finger, but somehow Ren being in the employ of William helps him to meet Ji Lin, who happens to come into possession of the exact finger from one of her dance partners in the dancehall. Death follows this plot everywhere, with the locals and British colonizers thinking that a tiger is roaming the town at night. There have been cases of dogs being eaten, with nothing left but their chains and tufts of fur behind.
Things start to get worse when women start to be killed as well. Is it the tiger, or is there a murderer in town?
Not only are there women dying in the town, but there are people dying at the hospital that Shin and William work at – and not from natural causes. Both Ji Lin and Ren need to work together in order to return this finger before the 49 days are up.
In between that main plot, there are some aspects of romance in Ji Lin’s life, and her feelings are developing for Shin (yes, you heard that right) although she knows that she shouldn’t feel that way. William also seems to have some “romance” involved in his plot as well, although it seems like the women that he does end up getting involved with wind up dead. Suspicious.
Uh… well. I liked Ren, although I felt bad for him. He just wanted to do good, even though there were forces beyond his control that almost killed him multiple times. I don’t even think he realized that it came from someone close to him at one point. I liked that Ren seemed to be able to sense certain things and could see the spirit world. I am glad that he is able to stay alive for the most part though, and had a caring heart and soul.
This isn’t to kink shame anyone or anything like that, but the romance budding between Ji Lin and Shin just really threw me off. I also hated that Shin’s father was abusive towards Ji Lin’s mother. She would end up hiding her bruises and whatnot to others, and that’s really why she didn’t want to tell him about her debts. She also suffered from a few miscarriages, and it makes me wonder if it was because he was hitting her.
I don’t want to just shit on this book because of the step sibling thing though, so I’ll save that for my buddy read discussion. I just wasn’t into this book as much as I wanted to be.
I’m glad that I did this as a buddy read, or I would have given up on it a long time ago. I made a mistake (or was it) of listening to the majority of this book at 1.5x the speed because I was just falling asleep from it. I feel like the story could have been written better, or maybe I just didn’t understand it as much as I wanted to. I do intend to try Choo’s other novel The Ghost Bride at a later time to see if it’s just me, or just this book. We will see.