Jul 17, 2011

Book Review–Tiger’s Quest by Colleen Houck

tigersquestTiger's Quest is the second book in Colleen Houck’s epic fantasy romance that began in Tiger's Curse .

Kelsey has left India and Ren behind in a misguided attempt to give herself some distance and Ren time to  find himself a more worthy girlfriend.

It’s also a chance to lay low and avoid the evil Lokesh who has now become aware of the quest to break the curse and Kelsey’s part in it.

She returns to America, and thanks to Mr Kadam’s generosity she has a house, a car and her college tuition paid for.  She begins to settle in and dates other guys.

Then Ren, unable to stay away, comes to her. They are united and Kelsey realises what a twit she’s been. They are in love, happy and even Ren’s cheeky brother Kishan can’t upset the situation.

After a freak accident, however, Kelsey’s name is leaked in a newspaper story and Lokesh finds them.  A fight ensues, Ren is captured, and Kelsey and Kishan must flee back to India to pick up the quest where they left off.  If they can complete the quest, then they can rescue Ren.

But can they rescue themselves from the attraction they feel for each other?

No longer a passenger
In my review of Book 1 – Tiger's Curse , I commented that I felt Kelsey was a bit of passenger. In Tiger's Curse she was given the Gada( a magical club like weapon) by the Goddess Durga.  She was given the power to wield it but she spent most of the time letting Ren do the “manly” thumping and crushing. The answers to puzzles or mysteries that Kelsey had to figure out also seemed plucked out of the air, plot devices with no real chance for the reader to try and figure them out alongside Kelsey.

In Tiger's Quest, though, Kelsey  is gifted additional weapons and is trained in their use by her Indian guardian Mr Kaddam and we start to see a more Buffy-esque character develop.  The physical side of the quest also seems more equally shared between her and Kishan.

Now on the one hand you could argue that this is a natural progression of character…from insecure teen to a more self assured young woman. This is fantasy though and I have to ask,  if she’s the chosen of Durga and she’s handed a weapon of great power, couldn’t she be granted the skill to use it.

Sufficed to say, Kelsey gets to kick butt in this book.

Juxtapositions upset my condition

I can see the loving research that has gone into this book, the cultural and travel information is comprehensive.  Unfortunately I could see it too well. There’s an art to blending background colour into a novel and in a number of instances I found that I was dropped out of the story by ill-fitted blocks of information juxtaposed with the narrative.  I won’t be as rude to say that some sections were copy and pasted from a travel guide but it felt that way.  I am aware though that I am an experienced reader and might spot info dumps where younger  less experienced readers might not notice or care. Nonetheless it irked me on more than one occasion.

The second juxtaposition, if you will, was the inclusion of other myths and legends – Biblical and Northern European alongside an epic Indian Fantasy.  Again I can appreciate Houck’s love of history and culture but I found this adventure swung away from Indian myth and legend and roped in Noah’s ark Shangri-la, Fairies and Norse myth.  It was a case of too many myths spoiling the broth.  I lost the sense of the mysterious, the freshness, that comes with learning about a culture that I have no real background in.

Finally I had trouble in the believability of Kelsey’s  relationship with Ren.  She pines for him romantically but I didn’t feel a strong sense of concern for his wellbeing.  She seems more worried about the presence of Kishan and developing feelings for him than fearing for Ren being tortured at the hands of Lokesh.  Perhaps this was a pacing issue?

Ruminations and recommendations

So it’s no surprise then to find Tiger's Quest isn’t my cup of tea. As a young adult adventure I find it a bit long.  I think it could have been a hundred pages shorter and moved a bit quicker.  I don’t mind a good romance but I felt the dates Kelsey endures at the beginning were a bit superfluous.

It’s a good safe read for your teen, nothing past a kiss and a cuddle.

This book was a review copy provided by the publisher
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