Review: The Night Tiger

The Night Tiger

The Night Tiger
By Yangsze Choo
Flatiron Books, 9781250175465, January 2020, 384pp.

The Short of It:

There is an awful lot going on in this story and honestly it was rather exhausting to read.

The Rest of It:

Ji Lin is an apprentice dressmaker. It’s an honest living but doesn’t pay enough to help pay her mother’s Mahjong debt so she takes a job working in a dance hall. These places have poor reputations so she spends much of her time hiding this job from her family and friends. One night, as she is dancing with a rather mysterious man, a glass vial falls out of his pocket. Thinking it might be valuable, Ji Lin quickly tucks it away, desperately hoping she isn’t accused of being a pickpocket.

Inside the vial is a shriveled up finger, preserved in salt. What does it mean? It is used for magic? Has it been cursed? Where did it come originally? This finger lures her down an adventurous path in search of its meaning.

When I said earlier that this book had a lot going on, man, I wasn’t kidding. Ji Lin has to deal with her mother’s constant inquiries about male suitors, her abusive step-father who takes his anger out on everyone,  including Ji Lin’s mother and her step-brother, Shin. Ji Lin would love to be a nurse and yet she spends her days fighting off men who want to do more than dance with her.

With all this going on, there is also a houseboy who sees death, people going missing, a rogue tiger is said to be the cause, and doctors going back and forth about missing body parts and people dropping dead from poisoning.

My main issue with this story is that it jumped all over the place. I didn’t get to spend time with any one character for long and overall the story was fantastical and not believable. The other issue I had is the one thing that WAS carried throughout the story, the attraction between Shin and Ji Lin, step-siblings. Not related by blood but still. I could not get past the cringe factor.

This is a book club pick and I know many readers who found this book quite entertaining. I, however, did not. It was just okay for me. If the story had focused on one main character and really delved into his or her story, I’d be more invested but with all the running around and fantastical elements (ghost tiger) I was over it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

11 thoughts on “Review: The Night Tiger”

    1. It didn’t feel realistic to me. The tiger story was interesting but not really explored. The one young boy’s story was interesting but nothing special about it in the end. It was all over the place.

  1. Sounds like I would just be confused about what is going on. Thanks for the review; I wont feel guilty about skipping.
    And yeah…no cringe love please!!

    1. It started off well. I wish the author had stuck to the boy’s story. That was more interesting to me than dual storylines competing with one another. And step-brother and step-sister love? Ew.

  2. This sounds a bit much for me as I am more of a linear plot reader. But one not-great book out of all the ones you’ve been reading lately is not bad at all!

  3. sorry this didn’t work out better for you but, they can’t all be winners. I am a bit sick of my book group as the librarian generally selects books I’ve already read, or am not interested in (at least half the time). This month’s is Obama’s The Audacity of Hope which I read when it was first released. Last month, I skipped the Zoom meeting.


  4. I think I’ll pass, I wouldn’t like the jumping all over and not feeling connected to any of the characters. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. When it comes to fantasy, less is best works better for me as well. It takes time to embrace the world and the characters, so it’s all jumping around and there’s too much going on, I’ll have to pass as well.

  6. I liked this one more than you did, but, yeah, the relationship between Shin and Ji Lin made me uncomfortable. I definitely liked the author’s Ghost Bride much better (which reminds me, I need to watch that series–I keep putting it off).

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