The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Flatiron Books

The Night Tiger was my January pick from Book of the Month and I don’t think they could have picked a better book.  The Night Tiger takes us to early 1930’s Malay and the hospitals and cities that are home to both locals and wealthy, privileged British doctors.  Filled with magic, superstition, and mystery, The Night Tiger is a beautifully written book about finding our true selves.

Forbidden to attend medical school by her strict and abusive stepfather, Ji Lin is both unhappy and unfulfilled in her role as a dressmaker apprentice.  Secretly working on the side as a dance hall girl to pay off her mother’s gambling debts, Ji Lin walks a very careful line of propriety and morality. When a dance with a traveling salesman accidentally puts Ji Lin in the possession of a withered finger, it sets off a chain events that will affect everyone around her.  

Ren, a young houseboy working for a beloved doctor, finds himself on the task of recovering the finger that his master lost years ago in the jungle.  Believing that his master’s soul will not find peace if his body isn’t buried whole, Ren is on a strict deadline to find and return the finger to his master’s grave.  

As the deadline looms closer, the local area is hit with a series of unexpected deaths and fears of a man-eating tiger grow with each death.  

This was such a wonderful story of how two young people are struggling to find their places in the world.  Ji Lin is such a smart and brave young woman who just wants to be treated as an equal and go to school instead of only thinking of becoming someone’s wife.  Ren is very bright with all the natural skills of a doctor but will only attend school if he can find someone generous enough to do so. His bravery during the search for his master’s missing finger is tested not only in this world, but in the space between worlds when his grief for his deceased brother brings him to the brink of the afterlife over and over again.  

The Night Tiger is full of magic and mystical elements.  The significance of names and numbers plays a major role in many of the decisions made by the characters.  Ji Lin is able to communicate with Ren through her dreams just like Ren communicates with his deceased brother.  The belief that men can be weretigers leads to some very shady dealings at the hospital where Shinn works and many believe it is a weretiger that is killing in the district.  Even one of the British doctors has suspicions that his luck is a little too good to be true.

The mystery surrounding the suspicious deaths was very well done-I definitely didn’t see that twist when it came.  

I found this book to be beautifully written, completely engrossing, and an absolutely magical read.  If you like a copy of this book, and would like to help support the site, you can find one here: