Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The last thing 17-year old Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever. (Publisher's summary from Goodreads)

After losing her parents in a tragic car accident and moving in with foster parents, Sarah and Mike, Kelsey goes looking for a summer job to earn money for junior college in the fall. The employment agency sends her to the Maurizio’s Circus to help out with ticket sales and the care and feeding of the circus animals including the exotic white tiger named Ren.
  From the moment Kesley makes eye contact with the tiger’s cobalt blue eyes, she feels an emotional connection to Ren. She begins spending her evenings sketching the tiger and reading poetry and Shakespeare to him until one night she feels the inexplicable desire to touch his soft white fur. When Ren licks her hand and begins purring as she pets him, Kelsey fervently wishes that Ren could be free.

As Kelsey gets close to the end of her two weeks with the circus, a mysterious man makes an offer to buy Ren. Mr. Kadam is willing to pay an exorbitant amount so that he can return Ren to a Wildlife Reserve in India. Kelsey agrees to accompany Mr. Kadam to help make Ren’s trip smooth. But when Kelsey is suddenly left by the transport truck and finds Ren loose, she has not other choice but to follow the tiger as he leads her into the jungle where she meets a beautiful man who exclaims he is actually her tiger and explains how over 300 years ago he and his brother, Kishan were cursed by an evil and  greedy man to live life as tigers. After his explanation, Ren declares that he believes Kelsey has the power to break the curse. Together she and Ren face many obstacles in their quest to find a way to help Ren and Kishan break the ancient curse that has imprisoned them.

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck is one of those books where the plot, setting, and characters blend together seamlessly to create a mesmerizing tale of magic, adventure, and romance. Houck’s prose is spellbinding. She expertly weaves Indian and Hindu mythology and lore connecting Ren’s past and present with Kelsey’s role in breaking the curse, thus, creating an epic tale of betrayal, healing and love. Interspersed throughout the book are poems, and a prophecy that holds key elements to Ren and Kelsey’s success.

Aside from the mythology and lore which becomes a focal point in Ren and Kelsey’s quest, India’s landscapes such as the bustling city of Mumbai, the palatial home Mr. Kadam has maintain for the princes, the temples and ruins of Kishkindha and jungles are more than mere backdrops. The exotic setting generates an atmosphere of excitement, danger, and romance that builds tension and suspense throughout the book. 

Adding to both the plot and the setting Houck breathes life into her characters. They become people the reader grows to care about. Kelsey is a lonely young women who accepts a summer job at a circus and becomes fascinated with white tiger. She feels more comfortable talking to the tiger than she does with humans. She is also bookish and reads both poetry and Shakespeare each evening with the tiger. She believes herself average looking and seems to have resigned herself to becoming a lonely adult. However Kelsey is  very courageous, determined, and passionate about Ren and finding a way to break the curse. Her inquisitive nature and her no nonsense intelligence make her a wonderful character. The only exception was her continued insistence that Ren, the man, couldn’t possible love her, which dragged on a little too long and made me what to shake some sense into her.

Ren was also a fabulous character. His old world charm was irresistible as was his godlike good looks. Like Kelsey, I found him impossible to resist and shivered every time he spoke. He was completely fascinated with Kelsey and his manners were impeccable, yet he had a strength and a passionate nature that made me envy Kelsey and wish I could take her place. I also fell in love with Mr. Kadam, who was actually older than Ren. He had dedicated his life to finding a way to break the tiger’s curse and sacrificed himself unselfishly in the process. I loved his stories and how grandfatherly he was with Kelsey.

Tiger’s Curse definitely ranks up on my top ten best reads this year. I loved the story, the mythology, the setting, and the romance left me giddy. After finishing the book, I ran out and bought Tiger’s Quest, Houck’s second book in the series, which I devoured too and am now anxious to read the third book Tiger’s Voyage when it is release in November.

If I had a 4.5 rating scale Tiger's Curse would have rated this. The only reason I did not give it 5 Cherries is because of Kelsey's refusal to accept Ren loved her for her, which as I mention annoyed me.

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