302020Jul

The Night Tiger

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo, New York : Flatiron Books, 2019.

Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Dive into the world of Ji Lin, a quick-witted apprentice dressmaker.  Agreeing to become an apprentice only to get out of her stepfather’s home, Ji Lin is still trying to figure out how to become the nurse that she wants to be without the support of her family.  When her mother accrues a Mahjong debt that she needs help paying off before her violent stepfather finds out, Ji Lin starts to moonlight as a dance-hall girl.  While dancing with strangers could kill her prospects, it pays well and dance-halls are strict about protecting their employees. When Ji Lin accidentally acquires a gruesome souvenir from one of her partners, she is plunged into dark journey through secrets and superstitions.

Eleven-year-old Ren had been the house-boy and apprentice to his master, Dr. Macfarlane, for many years before the doctors health started to fail.  In his last days, he made Ren promise to find the finger that he’d had to have amputated many years before to bury it with his body before the forty-nine days after his death were over so that his soul won’t wander forever.  Now, Ren has become the house-boy to Dr. Acton, an old friend of Dr. Macfarlane and he only has his own intuition to rely on to find the missing finger. 

As the days tick by for Ren’s search and Ji Lin tries to figure out what to do with her souvenir their paths seem to be unknowingly circling each other.  Is there a connection tying them together? Could it be an extension of a connection she shares with her stepbrother?  The five Confucian virtues.  Ji Lin’s name has always represented Zhi or knowledge.  Shin, Ji Lin’s stepbrother, represents Xin or faithfulness.  Now, there’s Ren or benevolence and his twin brother Yi or honesty.  The last virtue is Li or politeness, who is the fifth person in their circle? Why do circumstances seem to be bringing them all together against all odds?

Entering the world of 1930s British Malaya (Malaysia now), is an exciting story of old superstitions, servants and masters, and modern idealism.  This historical fiction brings the whispers about people who turn into tigers at night to prey on the unwary and the bridge between life and death to life in an enthralling and imagination driven way.  Thrills that span the ghostly dreamscape, family secrets, curiosity-driven dangers and more, Ms. Choo weaves all these characters and themes into a wonderful story that intrigues and titillates. 

Susana Goldman is the Director of the Alamance County Public Library.  She can be reached at (336) 513-4753 or sgoldman@alamancelibraries.org.