An admission: these days I'm a bit tired of fantasy adventures that take please in some Western European country. Or America. I mean, I'm in NJ and since GuysLitWire doesn't pay us bloggers to venture out into the world to find new books, I can't afford plane trips to exotic locales. Thankfully, I can pick up a book to explore. You can, too. Go on. Oh, wait, I haven't given you your itinerary yet.
Early 20th century India, when it was still a colony.
Gods. Demons. Magical bloodstones. Talking tigers.
Sure, there are humans. A girl who is telling stories to save her life. A boy thief promised a better life.
And one hell of a story.
Let's talk about Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis. I love books about people telling stories. Yeah, yeah, I'm a writer, so I'm biased. But everyone tells stories. Some of us do it with texting, and some do it with tigers.
Raka has definitely more problems than any girl in any high school you know. For one, she's betrothed to a vile old man. Not so good. She's not even to be the first, or the second of his wives, but his eighth. Oh so not good. And when he discovers that Raka is not a virgin [*gasp*], well no self-respecting man in early 19th century India could marry a woman, let alone his eighth woman, who has already parted her sari... so when her future husband discovers this she's be condemned to death. Ask any cheerleader is she has such problems!
To escape some of the fear, Raka tells a story to her only friend in the household, a eunuch named Lalit. Okay, guys, relax over the eunuch thing. Trust me.
Her story involves one of the fresher of the boy thieves that are so often found in YA books (don't they all owe Peter Pan a debt?). His name is Farhad, who is not having such a good time also because the Hindu god Krishna has decided that poor Farhad is just the guy to rescue Krishna's daughter from an evil demon. And yes, the evil demon plans on marrying Krishna's daughter. Farhad is not only a thief but a damn good trickster. If you don't know what a trickster is, well you better Wiki it, cause it's a world of fun. But I figure you're smart since you read this blog, so I won't say more.
Farhad is promised a better reincarnation if he succeeds. That's pretty cool - wouldn't we all want to come back as rock stars or rich son's with sports cars? Of course, I think having a best friend who is a talking white tiger is much better than a white Porsche (though if it could talk like K.I.T.T. I'm good with that).
So the book goes back and forth from Raka to Farhad. Things get more and more dire.
Meanwhile we get a tour (maybe even a tour d'force) of India in a distant time when it was a British colony. So there is a lot on the culture and traditions of India, as well as the bitterness of being occupied by foreigners, but learning is part of reading, didn't your teachers drone on and on about that? It's true. True and with tigers!