Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck (Hodder & Stoughton)
In a book world that is currently (and still) being dominated by vampires, werewolves, angels and now, even mermaids, Colleen Houck's Tiger's Curse, offers something that's refreshingly different.
And I for one enjoyed it tremendously.
I mean, it's not every day you read about a young girl who has to journey to the heart of India to break a 300-year old curse, with only a white tiger for company.
Yet, this is exactly what 17-year Kelsey finds herself doing after a summer job at a circus results in her travelling with a mysterious white beast who seems more human than feline, to a land lush with secrets waiting to be unravelled, and dangers just waiting around every turn and corner.
When Kelsey arrives in exotic India, she's soon taken on a wild traipse through the jungle where she discovers that Dhiren, the tiger, is actually not a tiger, but an Indian prince who has been trapped in feline form for over 300 years.
With him only being able to shape shift into human every 24 minutes in the day, Kelsey and Ren are forced to navigate a labyrinth of never ending trips through derelict temples and mythical cities ruled by monkey gods, right into the pulsing beat of the wild jungles of India, where they're forced to come face-to-face with dark and magical forces in a quest to find a key to an ancient prophesy.
With the heat of the tropical forest running through their veins, it's only inevitable that passion and romance blooms between the two.
Between battling spell-binding magic , balancing their new-found romance and navigating through a mystical world where no lines are blurred between reality and illusion, Kelsey and Ren will have to keep their wits about them if they even have a hope of completing their task.
Let me start off by saying that this book was such a treat to read. The concept, the imagery and the beautiful descriptions made sure that I was kept glued to the pages of this book.
I couldn't help but fall in love with the exotic descriptions of India; the vivid and phantasmagorical images searing through my head, while the fragrant spices, foreign dishes and depiction of run-down and ruined temples located in the green, green forests had me wishing I was in the midst of it all.
The dialogue often comes across as being a little stilted, especially in the first couple of chapters, but after a while, the book finds its rhythm and interaction between Kelsey, Ren and the supporting characters feel a lot more natural.
Kelsey, for the most part, is quite a likeable protagonist. Although she naively heads into the journey, she, for the most part, bravely endures the consequences her rather rash decision costs her.
I did, however, find myself a little annoyed with her towards the end. I often tend to have issues with heroines who aren't secure in themselves, and her how-could-he-possibly-love-me-because-I'm-so-ordinary-whinge was definitely one of the aspects of her personality that I could have done without.
I mean really, that one's getting so old already, don't you think?
In a sense, I understand why she felt like she had to do what she did at the end of the book (which is the first in a series by the way), but if you're going to go that route (I'm being deliberately vague here), then do it with dignity sweetheart.
Still, I definitely don't dislike her and hope that we'll see a more confident side to her in the next instalment.
Of course, Ren and his brother Kishan (can you smell a love triangle here? I can.) are equally interesting.
The myths and stories surrounding them only add to the puzzle and while I feel like I don't quite know them yet, I get the feeling that the next few books in the series will answer some much-needed questions I have about them.
Combined with the magic, myths and the origins of a terrible curse, Tiger's Curse is, if you look past its flaws, an entertaining, fun-filled and gorgeous fantasy read. I would definitely recommend it to people tired of the same old formulaic paranormal fantasy reads.
I can't wait to get started on Tiger's Quest.
Keen on reading this book? Buy your copy now.
Read this book yet? Tell us what you thought of the book in the comment box below.
Sign up for Women24 book club newsletter and stand a chance to win our top ten books from kalahari.com.