Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: White Tiger

White Tiger
White Tiger by Kylie Chan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emma is an Australian in Hong Kong. She’s been working as an English teacher at a local Kindergarten as well as taking on private clients. One of these clients is Simone the four year old daughter of a very wealthy Hong Kong businessman. When Emma quits her kindergarten job, Mr. Chen, Simone’s Dad, hires her as Simone’s full-time, live-in, nanny.

Upon moving into Mr. Chen’s home, Emma starts to discover strange goings on…Leo, Mr. Chen’s driver is actually more like a body guard, and Mr. Chen’s late wife was murdered on Leo’s watch. Mr. Chen teaches martial arts and basically has a do-go and full complement of very sharp weapons in his home. Mr. Chen always takes a sword with him. His students are not allowed to speak to Emma under any circumstances or face the wrath of Mr. Chen. Emma knows something isn’t quite normal about Mr. Chen, but no one will answer her questions. Meanwhile Mr. Chen is realizing there is something a bit different about Emma, something he can’t quite explain. Gods and Goddesses, demons and kings, might and magic all come into play.

I found this book incredibly hard to put down…to the point where I got all of four hours of sleep last night. White Tiger is based on Chinese mythology, which I knew nothing about, and it totally drew me in. Maybe I am just a sucker for these modern re-telling of very old stories.

I loved the way Ms. Chan slowly reveals everything, and the frustration that it causes Emma. The stereotypical dance between the man trying to “protection” the woman, and the woman showing the man just what could have gone wrong in his protection scenario. The yin and yang of the situation, basically. I so enjoyed the characters! Simone at 4-5 is delightful and wise beyond her years, but then what do you expect from a child who is half God. Bai Hu gave fantastic comic relief in the most trying of circumstances. Leo, was the uber-man, and ironically gay. I loved the irony, and also was really impressed by the theme of family that runs through the story…how everyone in Mr. Chen’s household is loved as family and accepted for who they are, be it a 6’6” gay bodyguard, or a tame demon trying to gain humanity.

I did have some issues with the story. The dialog was a bit choppy and I didn’t understand the purpose of the storyline with April and Andy, it seemed totally pointless. There were a few times during the story where Emma offered something, and was met with abject horror, but this reader never understood what was so wrong with Emma’s offer. Case in point…I believe it was the first time Emma killed a demon with her chi, Mr. Chen was incredibly weak and Emma drew on her chi to offer it to Mr. Chen. Mr. Chen and Leo reacted with great disdain, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why. Rereading the scene, then the whole chapter, still didn’t answer that question for me.

It seems, from other reviews, that people either love this book or they don’t. Put me in the loved it column. I will be waiting for the next book in this trilogy. I understand this was originally released in Australia some time ago? If so, I hope the publishers don’t make me wait too long for book 2.

View all my reviews

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