Colleen Houck,
Tiger's Quest
(Splinter, 2011)

In Tiger's Curse Colleen Houck introduced readers to a world of Indian culture and mythology, a magical world that is new to many readers of young-adult fiction. In Tiger's Quest, the second of of Houck's planned five-book series, we return to this world as Kelsey is pulled back into her quest to break the curse on the two Indian princes.

The second book of Houck's Tiger's Curse series picks up right where the first book ended. Kelsey is on her way back home, where she plans to begin classes while waiting to hear when she'll be needed to again to help the brothers with their quest. For some time Kelsey is an almost normal college student, taking classes and even dating, until Ren shows up at Christmas, determined to win Kelsey back. When Kelsey's safety becomes compromised, the threat of Lokesh prompts Ren to call in Kishan for added protection. However, the three soon find themselves ambushed and Ren captured again. This time it's up to Kelsey and Kishan to track down the second part of the prophecy and travel through magical kingdoms to find the next piece in the puzzle to breaking the curse.

In many ways the second book of the series is better than the first. Houck has become a more experienced writer; her writing style has improved significantly from the first book. This story is also a little more suspenseful and compelling than the first novel was. As with the first novel, I found myself fascinated with the use of Indian culture and mythology. It's a welcome change to read about myths and stories I haven't already heard a hundred times elsewhere.

The biggest downfall is that she seemed to fall into what I refer to as "the second novel trap" that is so common in YA novels. They set up the romance in the first novel, but must find some way to tragically tear the couple apart and put the male lead in danger in the second novel. However, Houck redeems herself in this case by adding in a slight twist to the ending. You may see it coming a mile away like I did, but it serves to keep the story fresh and interesting, and will hopefully add interest to the plot of the third book.

Which brings me to my next point, I also commend Houck for keeping the relationship between Kelsey and Ren interesting. There's no creepy standing over the girl while she's sleeping (unless you count him sleeping by her bed in tiger form), there's no insane jealousy and forbidding the girl to do what she wants, or being super overprotective and controlling. Kelsey is a strong girl who is allowed to make up her own mind. Ren respects Kelsey and even welcomes the challenge of competing with other guys for her love (unless those other guys happen to be Kishan). So many times in YA series the couple gets together in the first novel, and they become less and less interesting as a couple with each succeeding novel. Houck is really trying to avoid that problem, and so far I think she is doing a good job. I'm curious to see how she keeps it up with the third installment.

If you read and enjoyed Tiger's Curse, then I highly recommend you continue with the series. The second book is just as good if not better than the first, and I'm really looking forward to reading the third book. If you're a fan of YA fantasy but haven't read the any of the books in the series, I would recommend giving them a chance. The series is exciting and the Indian culture and backdrop adds originality to the story.

book review by
Charissa Jelliff

10 December 2011

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