Okay, raise your hand. Who here wishes they could have a hot Indian prince show up and whisk them away on a grand adventure? I can’t be the only one, right? Colleen Houck takes us on a magical, suspense driving, swoon worthy read over the span of six books (Tiger’s Curse, Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Voyage, Tiger’s Destiny, Tiger’s Dream Part 1, and Tiger’s Dream Part 2), and one novella (Tiger’s Promise). Today, we’re going to be discussing all those things that really made this book, and the ones that followed, so amazing.
Tiger’s Curse, the first one in its series, starts us off with a prologue full of description, suspense, and never-ending questions as our prince—name unknown for now—struggles against the declared evil Lokesh. We get this amazing taste of what possibly awaits us from then on—and Houck does not disappoint.
Immediately after this prologue, we’re introduced to our MC, Kelsey Hayes who, like most of us during the blazing summer months, is looking for a part-time job. She’s a normal girl with a tragic backstory of losing both parents to a car accident when she was only 14. The girl has strong morals, determination, strength, and a stubbornness that’s had me either laughing or banging my head against the wall more times than I can count. She meets our handsome, feline prince at the zoo in town, and the rest is history.
One of the best, and I mean best, parts of this book, and the series is Houck’s mastery over dialogue. Just thinking about it has me grinning from ear to ear and holding back my laughter. Every character was such a smart-ass comeback for everything. Can we all just take a moment and remember back to the fourth book where Ren and Kelsey are arguing and he comes out with the line: “Maybe I should have read the taming of the shrew!” And they’re just insulting one another through classics. I had to take a minute when I read that part. Another one—spoiler alert—when they’re running through the forest in the first book, after they arrive at Kishkinda. Both characters are being chased by monkeys and it’s the best thing ever because Houck uses references from past moments in the book to enhance her dialogue and the absurdness of the situation.
“Perfect! Now we’re being chased by hoards of monkeys! Perhaps you would care to name their species as we’re attacked, just so I can appreciate the special traits of said monkey as it kills me!” — Kelsey to Ren, Tiger’s Curse
Gotta love the girl, she’s just so sassy. Let’s be honest, though, Ren will never live down the “eating a monkey” thing. I could go on and on about this stuff and favorite quotes from the books, but honestly, Houck’s handle on dialogue is mind blowing; it’s a level of writing that I seek in every book I read. Rightly so, dialogue is such a vast part of any story, it’s one way we can connect with the character. I know, on more than one account, where I’ve been reading a book and I’ve thought of a response that a certain character might say and—BAM—there’re those words on the page. Instantly I’m all, “Well, lookit you. I think we’ll get along just fine.” Anyone else have these moments with any character from any book they’ve read? Let me know in the comments.
Alright, okay, begrudgingly we move away from dialogue and into the next part which is an aspect of writing that I can never get enough of, whether it be the Tiger’s Curse series or any series. The research behind it. One thing that really made Tiger’s Curse into the thrilling read we have today is all the research that went into every book. Houck weaved a story with facts as beautifully as the magic cloth Kelsey achieves in Tiger’s Quest. She fills every book with these amazing stories about Durga or the gifts they’re going after in that particular book, and she does it in such a way it never takes away from the story or overloads the reader. This can be such a tricky balance because a little too much and your reader gets lost, but a too little and we still get lost because we won’t have enough information. The key is when and where, in this situation. For all those writers out there, you need not tell us every subsequent detail in one space, bring it up as it applies to us.
Perfect examples from our book. In Tiger’s Curse, we learn about Ren’s past thanks to Mr Kadam who tells Kelsey the story as they’re looking on the white tiger in his cage. Later on, once they’re on the plane to India, we learn more about Durga which is setting us up for that moment where—in hero’s journey terms—the character’s world changes, and she meets Ren the prince for the first time.
A final aspect of the research and facts portion I loved: we’re not just given one religion, which is shown at the end of book one. We have other influences, like Chinese religion, because Ren’s mother was of Asian decent. This is just another thrilling aspect that enhance the qualities and reading experience of the book. I loved that it didn’t just stick to one thing; it branched out connecting multiple together.
So, we’ve got dialogue, we’ve got research, now all we need is a stunning cover that pulls the reader in so they can experience these other amazing traits. The cover for Tiger’s Curse features our lovely feline friend, Ren. He has his signature cobalt blue eyes, snow white fur coat, and an adorable expression to boot. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a giant tiger like our handsome prince to cuddle at night? Kelsey was completely justified in buying that fake one from the toy store.
Everything about the cover is mystical and reader’s can get a good understanding of the adventure they’re in for. I love how everything revolves around a singular color, too, which is an aspect of each Tiger’s book in the series. If you have the hardcover version of the books, they look stunning when they’re placed in a row or stacked. The glossy dust jackets shimmer in the light, and each one compliments the rest. It’s a treat to the eye.
If I had to choose my least favorite one, it would be between Tiger’s Voyage or Tiger’s Dream—which I haven’t read yet, I really need to, I really want to, it’s just been a battle with time lately. For the former, we have a picture of a dragon which is cool and all, but I feel conflicted about the way it looks. There’s just something about it that always throws me off. Ironically enough, Tiger’s Voyage is my favorite book in the series story wise. I love everything in it, especially when—spoiler alert—Kelsey turns into a princess, and the green dragon hunts Ren and Kishan. It was straight from The Most Dangerous Game and it was delicious to read.
Tiger’s Dream breaks the mold in terms of covers. We have actual people on it, which are Kishan and Durga. This also happened with the prequel novella Tiger’s Promise, where we get to read more about Ren and Kishan’s beginning. While they look great, it feels a little weird to have people on it when all the rest don’t. And can we talk about how there’s a Part 1 and a Part 2. I mean, why couldn’t they combine everything into one thing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only thing super different is cosmetics. Each book features a different colored map with respect to the color of the cover. Part 2 begins at the part titled “Teacher” and Part 1 has an entire introduction chapter. Part 2, and this appeals to me, has a bonus chapter with all the main characters in the series. I pulled these facts straight from Houck’s Facebook page. She has a link where you can see both of the books in hardback. I’ll put that here. If you’ve never read the series or are looking to own one of the books check out the first one on amazon. There’s also Colleen Houcks website, which I would recommend perusing if you want to learn more about her and other series she’s produced.
On that note, I think it’s a good idea to wrap things up. Tiger’s Curse was an amazing book and introduction to the rest of the series. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I have plans to re-read the series here soon. I need a good dose of witty dialogue and thrilling character interactions. Let me know your favorite part of the series and check out my Instagram for more things book related. If you have a book or series you think should be highlighted in future Throwback Thursday posts, suggest it in the comments. Until next time.
All the best.