Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck is pretty much Twilight, but with tigers. The  awkward writing and lifeless protagonist are helped along by the two very interesting male characters.

Kelsey is a normal teenage girl. It’s the summer before college, and she needs a job. The only one that really fits her skills (which are minimal), is to be the animal feeder at a travelling circus. She’ll be in charge of the show dogs and the white tiger (oooh, aaaah). Kelsey arrives at the circus, meets all the great people (and by this I mean flat characters), and then finally meets Dhiren, the white tiger. She pretty much falls in love on sight. He just seems to understand Kelsey, to actually listen to what she’s saying. She can tell him anything. As her two weeks at the circus wind to an end, Kelsey realizes she will truly miss her new, striped friend. Enter Mr. Kadam. He buys the tiger, and plans to take him to a tiger reserve in India. He invites Kesley along with them, since he noticed how responsive the tiger was to her. So Kelsey hops on a private jet, flies to India…only to discover that Dhiren, or Ren as she likes to call him, isn’t a tiger. He’s a man! He was cursed by a jealous ruler about four centuries ago. He can spend 24 minutes of every 24-hour-day in human form. He asks Kelsey to break the curse, she agrees, and they race across India to solve the riddle of the curse.

The plot itself is interesting, but the book moves slowly, the writing is terrible, and Kelsey has a zero on the personality scale, much like Bella from the Twilight Saga. There’s nothing particularly bad about her, and this is part of the problem: she has no flaws, and is thus not believable. She also has no shining achievments, no sparkling smile or charming voice. She’s like white rice, buttered bread, vanilla ice cream. The one bit of depth to her comes at the beginning of the story, and is repeated throughout:

Here we go again, I thought. Somehow explaining my life never got easier.

Yes. My parents are…deceased. They died in a car accident when I was a freshman.

The writing, especially the dialogue, was stiff through most of the novel. For example. the animal trainer describes to Kelsey how and why they bought the tiger: “Our resident tiger came to us when Mr. Maurizio purchases it from another small circus. He wanted to liven up the acts. he figured that I worked well with other animals, so why not tigers. we were very naive. It usually requires extensive training to work with the big cats. Mr. Maurizio was insistent that I try and, fortunately for me, our tiger is very tractable.” This just doesn’t sound like real people talk. It’s stilted and sounds juvenile. Plus, the story itself is pretty unrealistic, which adds to the strangeness of his speech.

Houck uses a lot of random reasons for the events in this book, just so she can connect people together, and keep the story moving. For example, Kelsey tells her guardians about her trip to India. They, naturally, want to meet Mr. Kadam, so they suggest “throwing an impromptu birthday party for me at the circus so they could celebrate with me and meet Mr. Kadam at the same time.” This sounds like a really quickly thrown-together plot point, and caught me off guard when reading. I couldn’t remember any other mention of Kelsey’s birthday at this point of the story. But, of course, the party was a big hit: “We all had a great time, and it was fun having a circus party.”

There were a few spots that did showcase Houck’s writing skills. Fore example, we get a lovely description of Kelsey’s small town in Oregon: “It was dawn. The sun still hadn’t climbed over the mountains, but the sky was already brightening, changing the clouds to pink cotton candy in the eastern horizon. it must have drizzled rain last night because I could smell an appealing fragrance in the air-the scent of wet grass and pine mingled together.”

And Ren and his cursed brother Kishan really do liven the book up. They’ve got personality and depth in spades. Ren is mature, witty, and handsome, with his mix of Indian and Asian features. Kishan is mischievous, playful, and flirtatious. But it takes a long time for them to enter the story in the first place. 

On another positive note, the cover of the book is beautiful. But, as we all know, you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover. This book was a good reminder of that saying.

Tiger’s Curse is book 1 in Colleen Houck’s Tiger Saga. I can see where the story is going, but have only the tiniest interest in following Kelsey and Ren to the end of their journey. 

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