Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Review: Trancing the Tiger by Rachael Slate

3 stars

Trancing the Tiger by Rachael Slate is a paranormal romance with a unique premise. It's set in an alternate modern day or near future, where the earth - particularly North America - has been ravaged by the Red Plague. Having lost her parents to the disease, Lucy Yeoh comes from her home in the US to her father's birthplace of Penang, Malaysia to meet her uncle. Unbeknownst to her, she's also walking into Ground Zero of the divine war that unleashed the plague. And fighting on the frontline is Li Sheng, who seems to think that he, Lucy and some other misfits are the hosts of the spirits of animals of the Chinese Zodiac, bestowed on them by the mythical Jade Emperor. To Lucy, it soon doesn't sound as crazy as it seems. But as her relationship with Sheng (and his resident Tiger) heats up, so too does the fight against the rival Kongsi, the Council of Elders, and the agents of the Plague God.

The world of Trancing the Tiger, particularly the setting of Penang and use of Chinese mythology, was well-done, as was the character of Lucy. When Sheng kept trying to convince Lucy that she was one of 'The Chosen' who bear an animal Zodiac, my inner geek started reciting "Into each generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness...". And even though she wasn't a Slayer, Lucy actually was a Buffy-esque heroine. She was a good combination of diffidence and strength, given she was facing life in a strage place after the death of her parents. It was Sheng who I wasn't so keen on as a character. I didn't really get a sense of him; it seemed like he had almost no character traits outside of his alpha-male Tiger-ness, his desire for Lucy, and his sense of duty to the Chosen who made up his Kongsi.

There were also some other elements I felt didn't work so well. Perhaps it's because I'm not a big reader of paranormals, but there were several things that happened that I found quite weird, such as Lucy's Rabbit randomly deciding to fling herself all the way to the ceiling of a room, where she hung in a manner more befitting a gecko than a rabbit. And although I enjoyed the ending, I felt like there was something of a lull and then a great flurry of action, as opposed to a gradual build toward a denouement. 

On the whole, though, Trancing the Tiger was a solid read, and I'll probably read the next in the series for the freshness of the premise.

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