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Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houck

tigers curse colleen houck Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houck

Ive done my share of running up steep hills and crunching up my feet in arch-breaking tango shoes, so Ive had my dealings with the pain barrier and whats involved in breaking through it. However, the pain barrier isnt limited only to athletic pursuits: anyone who counts themselves amongst the bookish set has no doubt experienced the literary pain barrier. George RR Martins uber-fat A Song of Ice and Fire'series has one (everything up to the point where Bran falls). The Harry Potter series has one (the first chapter or two of The Philosophers Stone). A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich has one (the, er, entire book). And Tigers Curse'certainly has one. Oh, the literary stitches and blisters youll endure as you hack through the first hundred pages or so of this book.

Recently orphaned Kelsey Hayes is thankful for her foster family, but is not especially enamoured of their vegan-friendly, organic-obsessed ways. Fortunately theres respite on the wayin the form of a tiger babysitting job at the local circus. When Kelsey tells her new family that she plans to spend her summer looking after a caged beast, the vegans in question dont bat an eyelid, but simply send her on her way after a quick pat on the shoulder. Fortunately for Kelsey, who has no experience around animals of any kind, her work at the circus turns out to be less about tiger-sitting and more about reading Shakespeare to said tiger in the evenings. Sonnets are recited, bonds are formed, and then a mysterious chap turns up at the circus spinning tales about tiger curses and wanting to take Kelsey and her pet feline back to India.

Kelseys unconscionably neglectful foster parents take about thirty seconds out from their vegan cookie baking to give her a quick yes, love, and Kelseys on her way to Indiain a private jet thats all about marble bathrooms and Michelin-quality food. Her tiger, Ren, it turns out, is rather more importantand wealthythan she had anticipated, and it seems that all of that Shakespearean buttering up was for a good cause. Ren is far more than a mere sleepy giant feline: hes none other than a prince of India transformed into tiger form after a bitter family feud. And its up to Kelsey to help transform him back into his bipedal state.

While at a glance this sounds like a rollicking fantasy novel, I have to admit that I truly, deeply struggled with the first hundred or so pages of this book. Houcks prose is blunt and dull, and theres little life to be seen in it. The most mundane of daily events are notated in detail, and theres a good deal of repetition and hard-to-justify goings on. Why dont Kelseys foster parents have any issues with her taking on a summer job at a circusa summer job that involves working with caged animals, which is surely something that they as (presumably) animal rights activists would object to. Why dont they so much as ask for a reference or two from Mr Kadan before letting Kelsey set off to India on a whim? (And has she even had her vaccinations?)'Even the reasoning given for Rens continued state of tigerliness is pained and cumbersome, with awkward excuses given here there and everywhere for why things are one way and not the other. Handwavium is invoked regularly, with Mr Kadan essentially summing up the situation as the curse was unbreakable until you, the chosen one, came along.

The dialogue here, too, is a mood killer, with the pages filled with conversations more stilted than a high-walker on six-foot wooden poles. Although the highly formal conversational tone of the adults can be passed off to a degree, Kelseys speech patterns are in some dire need of some serious colloquialisms. Its so problematic, in fact, that I first checked the back of the book to see whether the book is a translation (no), and then to see whether the book was self-published (yes, originally).

Things do pick up upon Kelseys arrival in India, however, largely because the setting looms large enough to distract from the awkward puppetry of the main players. The vibrant backdrop and the cultural tidbits Houck feeds us help us discount strained plot points such as the hermit monk who is an incessant spring of epigrams and platitudes, and the Indiana Jones-esque scenes inside a temple (I might have added an extra star had Harrison Ford made an appearance, but alas). While on the surface these scenes should entice and captivate, the prose, pacing and dialogue are so awkwardly rendered that its a struggle to feel at all invested in Kelseys journey and her efforts to transform Ren back to his human formparticularly when Kelseys character becomes so bizarrely changeable that its increasingly difficult to identify with her at all. While ambivalence is a necessary element of any sort of romance-oriented novel, there should be some sort of justification for these changes other than a need to progress the plot.

Its a great concept, and I can see how it could intrigue, but Im afraid that the poor pacing, the flabby prose, and the awkward dialogue made Tigers Curse'a no-go in my book.

Rating: star Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houckstar Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houckblankstar Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houckblankstar Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houckblankstar Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houck (okay)

Purchase Tigers Curse from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA | Booktopia

With thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy

Other books by Colleen Houck:

tigers quest colleen houck Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houcktigers voyage colleen houck Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen Houck

white 15 Book Review: Tigers Curse by Colleen HouckSend to Kindle


  1. Bookish_Belle /

    Fantastic review! I didnt think these books would be for me, then one of the women I worked with read them and became totally obsessed. To the point she reread them immediately after finishing them. She told me I HAD to read them. So I thought I should give them a go now Im not so sure.

    I love what you say about the pain threshold Ive never thought about it like that before, but its so accurate!

    • readinasitting /

      @Bookish_Belle Thanks for visiting, Belle!

      Ive read mixed reviews of this onesome people absolutely adore it, and others cant stand it. There are bits that are really good, in particular the Indian setting and some of the conflicts between the characters, but the prose killed it for me. Pick up this one and give it a few pagesdepending on the kind of prose style you prefer, you may be one of the first group :)

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