A missing finger is the eerie link between a houseboy, a dancehall girl, and a man-eating tiger in this magical tale set in colonial Malaysia.
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Why I love it
BOTM Editorial Team
If someone told me there’s a book out there that’s part history, part love story, part coming-of-age, part magical tale that is also a well-paced book that clocks in at under 400 pages, I’d be instantly suspicious. It sounds too good to be true. But here’s the thing: This book exists. It’s called The Night Tiger, and it’s epic and pleasing in every possible way.
The book follows two main characters: Ji Lin, a dressmaker by day and dancehall girl by night who dreams of becoming a doctor (if only her stepfather would let her); and Ren, a kindhearted houseboy so loyal to his late master that he’ll stop at nothing to reunite the man’s missing finger with his body. They also happen to be complete strangers who are somehow linked by a mysterious force—one that connects them with others (both dead and alive) who might just cause them harm.
This is a book that has something for everyone. There’s a central mystery—will Ren find that missing finger?—to satisfy puzzle-solving readers. There’s a will-they-won’t-they love story to tug at the heartstrings of every romantic. There’s a touch of magic for fantasy fans; a portrait of colonial Malaysia for history buffs; and enough family drama to please those looking for a moving saga. Equal parts nail-biter and heartwarmer, this book transported me into a world entirely unlike my own—one I’m eager to revisit.
Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions.
Eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy Ren also has a secret, a promise he must fulfill to his dead master: to find his master’s severed finger and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.
As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths wrack the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.