Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Reviewed by Jen: Tiger's Curse & Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck.

* Please note: As this post contains reviews for two books in a series there may be spoilers contained within.



Product details:
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: May 26th 2011.
Paperback, 502 pages.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: YA
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen

Passion. Fate. Loyalty.

Would you risk it all to change your destiny?

The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.


The first time I saw the cover of Colleen Houck’s novel Tiger’s Curse I was totally captivated.  It has to be one of the most beautiful book covers I have ever seen.  This is definitely a book people will read just because of the gorgeous cover.  But is the inside as beautiful as the outside?  Knowing that the Tiger’s Curse series was originally independently published I figured it could go either way.  The reviews seem to be cut down the middle with some readers absolutely loving it and others completely hating it.  My verdict?  I really did enjoy these first two books in the series.  No, they are not perfect, but how many books truly are?  I found Tiger’s Curse and its follow-up Tiger’s Quest to be fun and romantic reads mixed with a fair amount of mythology and adventure. 


Eighteen -year old Kelsey Hayes needs a job.  On her own since a car accident killed her parents freshmen year Kelsey is now heading towards college and needs to find a way to pay for her tuition.  Although Kelsey was lucky to be placed with a kind and supportive foster family the void left by her parent’s death still runs deep.  Kelsey has spent the last four years putting up walls of defense that even her foster parents cannot break through.  This is why when a temporary job working for a traveling circus becomes available Kelsey takes it, even though it means leaving her comfortable home.  One of Kelsey’s new responsibilities is to feed the circus’s white tiger, Dhiren.  Kelsey is drawn to the powerful animal and feels that she can relate to his loneliness.  She spends most of her downtime with the large animal, as she is more comfortable reading to him than she is socializing with people.  Then one day everything changes.  A mysterious man named Mr. Kadam arrives at the circus and purchases Dhiren on behalf of his wealthy employer who runs a tiger sanctuary in India.  Mr. Kadam makes Kelsey an offer she can’t refuse:  travel to India to ensure Dhiren’s safe journey and be heavily compensated.  Feeling she has a duty to ensure the tiger’s safety, and with nothing to keep her in Oregon, Kelsey accepts the offer.  Little does she know she is about to embark on a journey that will change her life forever.  After arriving in India Kelsey and Dhiren are abandoned on a remote roadside by those hired to transport them to the sanctuary.  Kelsey has no way to contact Mr. Kadam and no choice but to follow Dhiren through the jungles of India.  The more time Kelsey spends with the tiger the more she feels that he is more than just a tiger.  Soon she discovers that she is correct.  Her beautiful white tiger is actually Prince Dhiren, an Indian noble who had been cursed over 300 years before meeting Kelsey.  The curse allows for Prince Dhiren, or Ren as Kelsey calls him, to take his human form only 24 minutes of every day.  With very little time Ren convinces Kelsey that only she is able to help him break the curse, as she was the one who was able to free him from captivity.  Soon Kelsey and Ren embark on a wild adventure through the jungles of India to try and fulfill the prophecy of the goddess Durga.  Only Durga can lift the curse that has keep Ren trapped in the form of a beautiful white tiger for over 300 years.  As part of the journey Ren seeks out his younger brother Kishan, who was also cursed to spend his life as a black tiger.  Once the brothers are reunited old rivalries erupt and Kelsey finds herself trapped in the middle. 

By the end of the first book Kelsey and Ren have completed one of four tasks that will free Ren and Kishan from the curse.  Unfortunately, the feelings Kelsey and Ren have for each other become complicated and are only made worse by Kishan’s blatant pursuit of Kelsey.  In the end Kelsey decides to leave Ren, and her feelings for him behind, and return to her life in Oregon. 


Product details:
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: June 9th 2011.
Paperback, 496 pages.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: YA
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen


Back in Oregon, Kelsey tries to pick up the pieces of her life and push aside her feelings for Ren. But danger lurks around the corner, forcing her to return to India where she embarks on a second quest - this time with Ren's dark, bad-boy brother Kishan, who has also fallen prey to the Tiger's Curse.

Fraught with danger, spellbinding dreams, and choices of the heart, TIGER'S QUEST brings the trio one step closer to breaking the spell that binds them
 



 The sequel, Tiger’s Quest, introduces a new and dangerous complication into Kelsey’s life.  Lokesh was the father of Ren’s fiancĂ© and the man who is ultimately responsible for the curse placed upon the brothers.  Lokesh was after a rare artifact that the brothers were in possession of: the Damon Amulet.  The amulet is a powerful relic that has been broken up into five separate pieces.  Ren gave his piece to Mr. Kadam and it is the amulet that has allowed him to live in excess of 300 years.  Kishan gave his piece to Kelsey in order to ensure her safety on the quest to break the curse.  Now Lokesh has discovered that the brothers he cursed so long ago are still alive and that Kelsey has a piece of the amulet.  He will stop at nothing to obtain all five pieces, although no one is quite sure what exactly the amulet is capable of once all the pieces are reunited.  Kelsey has no choice but to return to India to help Kishan complete the second task that will lead to the end of the curse.  This, of course, leads to more dangerous adventures and complicated romantic entanglements for all three characters. 

One of the things I really like about this series is the way the author weaves the myths of India throughout the story.  I have no knowledge of Indian culture, mythology, or geography.  Therefore I truly enjoyed reading about the magical world Colleen Houck creates for her characters.  I believe that she has used actual Indian mythology as a basis for her book and wove it with stories she created in order to make the story her own.  The landscape that she describes is absolutely beautiful.  Kelsey and Ren’s adventures through the jungles of India are worthy of an Indiana Jones escapade.  There are twists and turns and danger lurking around every corner as Kelsey tries to help Ren break the curse.  It is easy to see why these books were so popular as independent novels before being picked up by a publisher.  They are very well written with characters who are easy to relate to and scenes that are incredibly visual.  The love triangle Colleen Houck creates between her characters is tense and pulls the reader right in hoping that Kelsey will finally admit to the feelings she has for Ren.  Frustrated with Kishan’s competitive nature and jealousy towards his brother. 

I did have a few things that bothered me about these books.  I could understand how Ren would fall in love with Kelsey given everything they have been through and the deep bond that they created.  But Kishan’s immediate attraction to Kelsey made no sense.  He often describes her as incredibly beautiful and says that Ren cannot begin to appreciate her beauty.  There is nothing in Kelsey’s narration or description that supports this contention.  She is not a confident character and never describes herself as anything but plain.  The idea that she is an undiscovered super-model just did not ring true with me.  The character stays true to herself throughout the books and never evolves into this gorgeous woman that Kishan insists she is.  Kelsey is a strong character in the sacrifices she makes to help the brothers, but she is not in any way glamorous.  In fact, her descriptions of herself are often more negative than positive.  The message here seems to be that a woman cannot feel beautiful until a man tells her that she is.  I would have preferred a more substantial reason for Kishan to be attracted to Kelsey.  The other problem I had was the pacing of the books.  At times the scenes seemed to drag on and on.  Each book is nearly 500 pages and the chapters are quite long.  Some of the adventures could have been shortened, as the length did not help in adding to the tension of the scenes.  For example, in the chapter “Kelsey’s Dream” Kelsey has several nightmares that morph into one another.  The point was made within the first two dreams, yet the scene kept going and going.  Unfortunately at times this became tedious, more so in Tiger’s Curse than Tiger’s Quest.  The introduction of a villain in the second book helped to move the plot forward in a way that lacked in the first book. 

Overall I did enjoy these books.  I think this is a series that will be very popular.  I know my students will like them and I have already recommended it to several friends as a good summer beach read.  Fans of romance will enjoy the up and down relationships of the characters and the adventures they embark on in order to stay together.  Breaking the curse does not only mean freeing Ren and Kishan, but also allowing Ren and Kelsey to truly pursue a life together.  Of course that can only happen if they survive! 

9 comments :

  1. I picked up this book cause someone posted a teaser that made me fall in love. I thought it get a better rating. I'll still picked it up and see what it all about. Thanks for the review!

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  2. I have read really positive reviews of Tiger's Curse as well as negative. I was planning to read this because of the India connection but I'm not so sure I'll like it. Good reviews.

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  3. Wait. She decides to LEAVE Ren? I was reading the 1st book and had to put it down because every other sentence I was rewriting inside my head. The story itself is awesome, but the writing was driving me crazy (I think it was the pacing. Some scenes were way too long, like you said. So inside my head I was switching things up and then I realized that I better stop reading before I give myself a headache)

    Anywho. So I didn't finish it. Now, not only do I find out that she LEAVES Ren, but that his BROTHER wants a piece of her because of her beauty? He started the whole curse thing because of taking a shine to Ren's fiance in the first place. I mean seriously.

    whoops. Mini rant. Sorry. Really liked your review! Your feelings were similar to mine (without the ranting).

    ♥ Trish
    Just a YA Girl

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  4. Stunning covers. It would be a shame to slot this into a row on a bookshelf - I'd want them on display!

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  5. I love the covers, and I really love the premises, but there's something that seems so tedious about these books. I'm glad you enjoyed them overall though! Fab review :)

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  6. These covers are really neat! I am normally not crazy about animal covers but thses work :)

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  7. Great reviews! I like the sound of the romance (because I am a romantic fool) but I am worried about the pacing. 500 pages and you can feel the drag definitely doesn't appeal to me.

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  8. I was totally captivated with this series from the setting to the characters and the wonderful mythology. I listen to Tiger's Curse and picked up Tiger's Quest immediately after finishing the first book and am so anxious to read Tiger's Voyage. Great reviews!

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  9. My friend and I have read these books and we think it makes sense how Kishan admitted his feelings so suddenly. He explains how he was trying to stay away from her and he has felt guilty his whole life for what has happened. In fact, we want Kelsey to chose Kishan, and she already described how he was like a bolder Ren. Just sayin'.

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