WOW! This book. I've heard such incredible things from very trusted book bloggers, but until I started reading it for myself, I had no idea. Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck is so entirely wonderful - filled with so much emotion, great characters, action, adventure and a very swoonworthy romance that made my heart ache.
I started reading the book in the afternoon figuring that I'd read a couple chapters before I went to pick up my boys from school. Before I knew it, hours had passed and I really struggled to go on the school run or cook dinner. All I wanted was to read more and more of this story. I ended up staying up far too late reading and then waking up far too early in order to finish those last few pages. It's an amazing experience, finding a book that is so exciting and readable and swept me away so completely.
Our main character is Kelsey Hayes. She's nearly 18 and living with a foster family in Oregon after the death of her parents. She feels quite alone in the world and all she really wants is to find a summer job to get by. Instead, she's pulled into this weird new world inhabited by cursed Indian princes and tigers and a place that is so alive with ancient Indian mythology. Colleen Houck did an amazing job on the setting. There was just enough of Oregon to make me feel utterly homesick, but India seems so exotic and magical. From camping rough in the jungle to sitting pretty in a luxurious house, I always wanted to be where Ren and Kelsey are.
I was really pulled into the story immediately with Kelsey. I loved her connection with Ren, the white tiger who is part of the circus where she takes a parttime job. She spends hours with Ren, reading him stories and poetry, talking to him and keeping him company. Soon, she's being persuaded to accompany Ren to India where she believes the tiger will be set free in a nature reserve. When in the amidst of the Indian jungle, Ren is transformed into a man and tells Kelsey of the curse put upon him. Kelsey appears to be the only person capable of freeing Ren from the curse and agrees to a series of dangerous missions in order to gather together what is needed in order to break this curse. Such an exciting, exciting read!
I really loved so much about this book. I loved hearing of all the Indian myths and learning more of tigers, India, Indian culture and the gods and goddesses of the Hindu religion. It was all so fascinating to me and added so much depth to the story. As well as the myths, we learn a fair bit about Ren and his younger brother's personal histories and that of the very loveable Mr. Kadam, Ren's trusted employee and friend. I loved that we are able to be shown so much of these characters, it really sets the scene very nicely for the rest of the series.
I also loved all the danger and adventure as Ren and Kelsey went on this journey to locate different artifacts - from the Indiana Jones-esque mazes to the evil creatures they come up against, it all had my heartbeat racing.
Of course, my heartbeat was also racing from the very emotional and passionate relationship between Kelsey and Ren. It almost took my breath away some of their time together. Especially towards the end, they have a really great dialogue going between then. I had to laugh at some of it, especially all of the popular culture references that comes out of Kelsey's mouth. My heart really ached for the two of them to get over their minor conflicts and just be together already! I feel as though this heart-wrenching relationship will be explored more quite a bit over the next books in the series and if I'm honest, I'm really looking forward to it!
It's been awhile since I've been THIS excited about a book or a series, but Tiger's Curse really just has it all. Luckily I have the sequel waiting for me that I will immediately dive into. I highly recommend that you don't wait - pick up this book, read it and fall in love just like I did!