One of my favorite YA novels on the market right now is Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck. It’s about an eighteen-year-old girl named Kelsey Hayes, and the adventure she’s swept away on when she meets a white tiger she nicknames Ren. Of course, what Kelsey doesn’t know when she meets this tiger at her new temp job—a circus—is that Ren was once a prince in India and was cursed to become a white tiger until someone came along who could break the spell. Once Ren reveals his true identity, he and Kelsey must work together to find a way to break the curse, but it won’t be an easy journey. Between fighting off minions from the monkey-god and dodging an evil sorcerer who is after something Ren and Kelsey have (sorry, not going to spoil it for you), they’ve definitely got their work cut out for them.
Part of the reason I love this book so much is because of Kelsey, our female protagonist. In YA literature today, it’s important for female protagonists to be strong, independent characters on their own and not have to depend on others to save them all the time (i.e., damsel-in-distress mode). Kelsey is feisty, well-adjusted—especially considering what she’s gone through in her life—and stubborn. Yes, she gets into situations where someone with magical powers needs to help her out, but wouldn’t you, mere mortal, need the same? She even overcomes her fear of gigantic beetles in order to help Ren on this journey. Way to go, girl.
And Ren, our male protagonist, is charming and chivalrous. Yes, he’s several hundred years old, but I admit it, he’s pretty dreamy. With his cobalt-blue eyes and his black hair, I’m not sure what girl wouldn’t swoon over him a little.
One of the other things I like about this book is the balance between action and romance. Houck does a great job of building up romantic tension between the protagonists, dangling it in front of you, and then making you wait a few more pages to see if it will resolve. She also gives the readers a lot of Indiana Jones-style action through India’s history and several temples and artifacts, but it’s not overbearing. And our protagonists still find time for a little romance even while they’re on their quest.
The setting and descriptions are obviously well-researched and fit the story well. Before reading this book, I really didn’t know much about India, its customs, or its history. Houck once said that she hoped readers would come away from her book feeling like they’d just had a vacation to India, and the information she includes does just that. I learned a lot, and her descriptions make me want to go there. (Plus, every time I read this book, I get a sudden craving for Indian food!)
Houck originally published Tiger’s Curse through Kindle, and it was a bestseller on the Kindle charts for several weeks. She was later picked up by Sterling publishers, and the book was reprinted through their children’s book imprint.
Overall, this is an exciting read for teens and anyone who enjoys reading the YA genre, and it’s available for purchase in both printed copy or eBook version.