Monthly Archives: August 2012

Twilight in India

I’ve been reading the Tiger’s Curse series (Tiger’s Curse Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck with a fourth book coming soon), and I’m struck by how similar it is to Twilight. Perhaps that accounts for its popularity.

This book really feels like Twilight: India in so many ways. In this first person account, a moody teenager starts working for a circus and feels a strange connection with a  tiger. When she’s asked to be the tiger’s handler on a trip to India (despite her total lack of qualifications) she learns that the tiger is actually a cursed prince. Her arrival has partially broken his curse, and now he can regain his hot, smoldering human form for twenty four minutes a day. She’s welcomed to his sumptuous mansion, where she and the tiger embark on a rather jingly poem of a prophecy to break the spell and turn him human. In the forest, his brother, also a tiger, seems a bit more conniving and calculating, compared with the almost-shy, romantic Prince Ren.

Rather than being revolted by his savage tiger side, she’s terribly drawn to it. She’s less trusting of the prince in his human, form, though hse soon succumbs to that side as well. Much like Bella, she platonically cuddles him each night, protected by the fact that he must stay a tiger most of the time.

“Ren’s death was unbearable. If he was dead, then so was I. I was drowning in sorrow; I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t have any will left to drive me”  (193). Her all-consuming passion for Ren is the biggest link with Twilight. Back home, Kelsey has only a foster family, and no friends or activities of note. She’s likely to give it all up to become an Indian princess.

Kels watches in repelled fascination as the two tigers hunt an antelope, admiring the grisly spectacle. She feels incredibly deep, instant, heedless love for Ren, but also an attraction to his brother. She often finds herself in the role of peacemaker between them, though she also incites their competition by allowing them both to show affection and even kiss her. Meanwhile, they both treat her as the helpless, skillless maiden who must always have one of them to babysit her. He also carries her many times, as he has a magical strength she lacks and sings her lullabies to soothe her to sleep. From her fainting spells to her vision of Ren as her protective warrior angel, she has far too much damsel about her. Like Edward, he lived over a century ago, and has spent far too much time not being quite human. He seems to consider her his link to humanity, the only woman he has ever or could ever love. Meanwhile, she’s certain they can never be together, since if the curse is broken, he can marry an Indian princess or supermodel. They have fights and breakups as one is determined not to burden or tie down the other. When she pulls away, he becomes aggressive and pushy, physically grabbing her and tricking her into going on a date with him, for which he threatens to hold her on his lap and force feed her if she won’t talk to him. She even complains that he’s eying her as if she’s an antelope he’s going to hunt. We’re in Tiwlight all over again.

Durga gives Kelsey a gada, a golden club, but tells her it’s mostly for “the warrior at her side” to use to protect her. She give Kelsey a cobra who is “sensitive “and longs to be loved for who she is,” a clear reflection of Kelsey herself. Kelsey is terrified of it.

The author seems to know her mythology, from appointing Durga as the goddess of their quest to inserting obscure fairytales like the legend of the golden fruit. Likewise the foods and lifestyle of India are presented with lots of believable, interesting detail, free of condescension. That said, the introduction of Japanese kappa demons seems unnecessary.

The writing is alluring, but a bit clumsy and teenagerish, with unlikely ccolloquiolisms from the ancient Indians. It’s heavy on Kelsey’s thoughts and emotions. Since they’re going on a fairytale-style quest, with a good chunk of Indiana Jones action-adventure, there’s far more plot than in Twilight. I guess we’ll see if the heroine gets more girl power than her competition…

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Asian-Inspired Fantasy Novels

I’m speaking at Mythcon about Asian-inspired fantasy novels, and I thought I’d post the ones I’ve been reading, along with a few of my comments:

  • Tiger Moon Antonia Michaelis
  • A fairytalelike Indian adventure of a hero boy sent by the gods to rescue a princess
  • Thirteen Orphans Jane Lindskold
  • Urban American fantasy with mah-jong magic
  • Fox Woman Kij Johnson
  • Sensual fairytale retelling from the fox wife’s point of view
  • Detective Inspector Chen novels Liz Williams
  • He battles demons and solves magical mysteries, freeing spirits and defending his demon bride in Singapore.
  • Under Heaven Guy Gavriel Kay
  • An epic struggle with amazing description and detail
  • Ladylord Sasha Miller
  • Sensual tale of magic and intrigue
  • Imperial Lady Andre Norton and Susan Shwartz
  • A girl-power fantasy like many of Norton’s as the bride seeks power and romance far from her native China.
  • Shwartz, Susan, Silk Roads and Shadows
  • Travels and ancient legends in a Byzantine quest.
  • Interesting Times Terry Pratchett
  • A Discworld novel follows Rincewind to ancient China, or close enough
  • A Heroine of the World Tanith Lee
  • Dragon in Chains by Daniel Fox
  • A violent, fast-paced epic of the one boy who can tame the waking dragon
  • Lord of Light
  • On a futuristic world, characters reenact the Indian pantheon
  • Naamah’s Kiss and Naamah’s Curse Jacqueline Carey
  • One of Carey’s sensual heroines travels to China, Mongolia, and then India to rescue a dragon trapped in a princess and free her beloved from the power of love.
  • Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Choice, Trickster’s Queen  (southeast asia)
  • A destined queen must discover her path, along with a raven-god and a thief’s daughter
  • The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander
  • A child’s fairytale as a prince trades six magical gifts for wisdom
  • Suzanne Fisher Staples, Shiva’s Fire
  • Pleasant tale of a girl who finds magic through dance
  • Tiger’s Curse Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Destiny Colleen Houck
  • A Twilight-style fantasy romance as an American teen quests to free her tiger-prince from his curse
  • Spirit’s Princess Esther Freisner
  • Following Helen of Troy and Nefertiti, Freisner writes a girl power tale of ancient Japan
  • Sandman: The Dream Hunters
  • A retold fairytale of a fox offering her life for the priest she loves, urged by the King of Dreams.
  • Across the Nightingale Floor Lian Hearn
  • A teen tale of revenge and intrigue blended with forbidden love.
  • Silver Phoenix
  • Lovely Chinese girl power fantasy
  • Shadows on the Moon Zoë Marriott
  • The Japanese Cinderella must choose between happiness and a powerful revenge
  • Cinder Marissa Meyer
  • Dystopian science fiction Cinderella featuring a metal-footed cyborg
  • Bound Donna Jo Napoli
  • Chinese Cinderella classic retelling
  • Cybele’s Secret
  • A fairytale of Anatolia/Turkey and sequel to the author’s Romanian 12 Dancing Princesses
  • Toads and Diamonds
  • Delightful version of the Grimms tale, set in mystical India
  • Additional Resources:
  • http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/306.Chinese_and_Japanese_Fantasy
  • http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/asian-fantasy
  • http://www.swantower.com/misc/settings.html.
  • http://moonsong.us/mythcon43/mc43panel.html

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