Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review - Tiger Moon

Tiger Moon
by Antonia Michaelis
translated from the German by Anthea Bell

Never heard of Tiger Moon? I hadn't, either. After finding myself thoroughly frustrated by listening to glowing online reviews (only to find that I didn't agree with the reviewers' conclusions at all), I went to our local children's bookstore to see if the salespeople there could recommend anything I might enjoy. I specifically asked for something that was well written. One of the women working there handed me this book and said it was one of her favourites. I'd never even heard the title before, but after hearing what it was about, I was intrigued.

An Indian girl named Raka finds herself sold to Ahmed Mudhi, a wealthy merchant, to be his eighth wife. The problem is, she's not a virgin, and when Ahmed Mudhi finds out, he will surely kill her. Raka spends her remaining nights telling a story to a friendly eunuch named Lalit, a fairy tale about a young thief and his white tiger on a journey to rescue a princess from her demon captor. Fantasy and reality slowly intertwine to create a tale about heroes, courage, love, and the power of stories.

I have to admit, I was a little wary going into this one because it was a translation. I'd tried reading Cornelia Funke's Inkheart years ago, and couldn't really get into it. I thought that might be because of the translation. This book was translated by the same person, so you can understand my trepidation. But perhaps it was Funke's storytelling that wasn't for me, because I didn't have any problems with the language in Tiger Moon. It didn't feel like it hadn't been written in English in the first place. The writing was beautiful and very evocative, bringing India in the early 1900s to life. I felt so immersed in the setting... the smells, the sights, the sounds. Reading this book was almost like taking a trip to another time and place (and that hasn't happened to me for a while).

The pace was excellent. The book never dragged. I wasn't as interested in Raka and Lalit's story at first, but those bits were shorter and to the point. Raka's Scheherazade-like storytelling chapters were far more interesting. That was probably due to the characters. I loved the characters in this book. They were interesting, unique, and totally different from anything I've come across in YA fiction lately. My favourite character was probably Nitish, the sacred white tiger with the talking blue eyes. Many heroes have a white horse... but Farhad got to ride a great white cat. Nitish was Farhad's constant companion throughout their journey to rescue the princess, and his observations (and insecurities) about the world were delightfully entertaining.

I have to mention the book design here. It is a beautiful book, even in paperback. The girl on the cover accurately reflects the girl in the story (no whitewashing here). The inside pages are also very pretty. The page numbers are ornamented and are placed halfway down the page, and the section breaks are decorated with Indian-themed designs. So lovely!

There were some mature themes in Tiger Moon, such as virginity and sex, so this definitely falls squarely in the young adult category. This book might also not be for the squeamish, as there are some vivid descriptions of Hindu funeral rites and cremation. But, overall, it was a great story that was well written, with characters you won't soon forget, and with just enough unanswered questions to make you keep thinking about the story long after you've finished.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Pace: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Originality: 5/5

Overall: 4.8 out of 5


  1. Sounds interesting. And great review! I hadn't heard of this before stopping by on the Hop.

  2. Sounds really great! I love finding books that are "off the beaten path." I seem to encounter the same problem as you (rave reviews of books only for me not to agree!). I like finding something on occasion that isn't that well known. I have no expectations going into it.

  3. Thanks for the review. I'll keep the book in mind.

  4. Hi I stopped by from the blog hop. Sounds like an interesting book.

  5. Wow that sounds like a really great book! Even more amazing, you were in a bookstore where someone knew something about Children's books that wasn't a series????!!! I'll definitely want to read this one. I loved fairy tales as a child though they were all happily ever afters, but I loved them when they were from other countries. I'm sure this one will be one I'll love, too.

    Followed you from the hop.

  6. This sounds good, and you certainly did your research. I would also have concerns about translated material, but it sounds like it turned out great.

  7. Sounds very interesting! Never heard of the book or author.

    Its so good when you take a chance on a book and it pays off.

    Happy weekend.

  8. Your blog hop post brought me here, and I am so glad it did. Tiger Moon sounds like a book I might find fascinating. Thank you for the review!

  9. This book sounds really intersting and I had not heard of this book before I stopped by. Thanks for the review.