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…