Ancient India in Tiger’s Curse || Book Review

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck


Genre: Fantasy [Mythology – Indian], Young Adult
Author: Colleen Houck
Published: January 2011
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 498 {paperback}

Review on Goodreads

This review is spoiler-free until I state otherwise

Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing

Ah, so much love for this story. This is the second time reading this book and this series still remains my most favourite ever! I can’t wait to continue re-reading the rest of the series because it only gets so much better from here on in! This introduction to the story is just as gripping and magical as I remember and ahhhhhhh REN! That beautiful, frustrating man. I cannot get enough of him!

Tiger’s Curse

When I first read this book – quite a while ago now – I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it. That was back when I wasn’t really into my reading and then BOOM, Houck proved to me why I need more YA in my life. It was certainly very interesting reading this a second time round being a bit older; there were some things that did come across somewhat young to me or slightly different. But overall, this story is still classic Houck – filled with adventure, challenges, nail-biting action and a romance that will leave you screaming in frustration.

Tiger’s Curse follows the character Kelsey. She’s a young, American girl who finds herself winding up involved with an ancient Indian prince stuck in the form of a white tiger. The story starts in a circus in Oregon and takes us through to India and mythical lands. Ren, the prince, was cursed hundreds of years ago and has been stuck in a tiger’s form ever since. Kelsey is recruited (well, not ‘recruited’ but go read the book if you want the nitty gritty, sheesh) to help break this curse and VOILA. A story is born.

Indian Myths

One of my favourite things about Houck as an author is the way she dives into unusual settings and throws herself into myths or ancient beliefs to create a story. She does this beautifully in the Tiger’s Saga and I love it. I love the constant weaving of ancient and new together and the way that Mr. Kadam (bless his little cotton socks, Kadam is just the BEST character) is there to guide not only Kelsey, but us as readers, through the ins and outs of those details we probably aren’t familiar with.

It makes for a really unique story in that you’re exploring new lands where anything is possible and the magic of the curse forcing Ren to be a tiger for most of the time – but a man for just 24 minutes – adds to the extreme tension of the romance that buds between Kelsey and Ren. I love the adventures that they go through, visiting temples and solving riddles Indiana Jones-style (no seriously, it’s like Indiana Jones but better). Truly though, if you love stories that put their characters through challenges like in Indiana Jones then for the love of god, buy yourself a Houck book. And as I said, these elements which entirely make the book for me (because I love a good myth-riddling adventure story) only get better as the series goes on. Trust me, wait till you get to book four, sheesh.

I don’t know how accurate any of the Indian representations are in this book however, so I can’t really speak for that. When I first read this book I trusted it blindly – but there’s actually a character at the beginning who’s Italian and Houck likes to make her characters use expressions or random words in their own language to build that persona; some of those expressions weren’t quite right (I speak Italian) – as far as I’m aware, anyway. I do, however, also have a very old copy of the book and I’m sure reprints could have amended these if they are, indeed, incorrect (just slightly). Which lead me to think, is the Indian speckled with an error or two here and there?

If you study languages, the problems I had with the Italian is that the circus master often ordered someone to do something in Italian, but the verb wasn’t conjugated – so he’d say “fermare!” instead of “ferma!” [and for those of you who don’t study language, that’s like shouting at someone: To stop! Instead of: Stop!]. But I think I’m being persnickety now. MOVING ON.

Kelsey & Ren

I think the relationship between these characters in an interesting one. Ren is a dreamboat and a half, but in this first book (and this actually surprised me re-reading it) he comes off as extraordinarily possessive, authoritative, and arrogant. Not all the time, but there were moments when I wanted to shout THE LADY SAYS NO, MATE.

Being a veteran of Houck, I say this to you: fear not. Her men in her stories are often wrapped up in ancient curses and out of touch with the world. They come from a time where women were in a very different position, but most importantly, they’ve not tried to court a woman for a few centuries. Ren is rusty in this book. But if memory serves right, as the story progresses the romance leans far from insta-lovey/sexism-gone-spoilt and more towards everything you ever hoped of. Becoming the sort of courting you’d expect from Tom Hiddleston, for example.

Which brings me to Kelsey’s character. I really like Kelsey. She’s a beautifully sarcastic person at times but damn, she deals with everything so well. Coming from a foster family seeing as her parents died in a car crash some years back, she’s willing to help Ren try to get his humanity back and daring enough to get involved. I don’t know if I’d ever think going to India with a veritable stranger is a good idea, but hey, it’s fantasy, let’s move on.

I love the way she tackles challenges, appreciates the luxury she gets to experience, and most of all, the hilarious way she gets distracted by Ren when he’s shirtless. Come on ladies, don’t deny it. If a literal Indian prince who is virtually godlike whipped off his shirt, you’re telling me you wouldn’t look? *waggles eyebrows* That’s what I thought.

On top of that, I love that she does have doubts about herself being Ren’s choice of romantic interest. They undoubtedly have a connection from page one, you know where it’s going, but you don’t want it to be all LET’S-GET-MARRIED-EVEN-THOUGH-WE-JUST-MET sort of thing. She questions this, tries to work out if it’s love or something to do with the curse bringing them together, and, praise the lord of goodly chocolate, doesn’t rush head first into anything. THANK YOU.

A quick spoiler (highlight to read):


I don’t feel like I have anything more to say on this book other than: buy the whole damn series and marathon the shit life out of it. It’s an amazing four-part story with delectable characters who struggle to know how to behave like modern humans beings and enough adventure to make you accidentally buy a cowboy hat on a whim. I can’t recommend this book enough and this series will always hold a special place in my heart!

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 You might also like . . .

If you love books with challenges, filled with fantasy, The Iron King is for you.

If you like strong women in a fantasy setting and a mysterious man, The Wrath and the Dawn is for you.

If you like the way Houck writes and structures her stories, Reawakened is for you.

 Have you read Tiger’s Curse? What did you think?

Share your thoughts below!

End Note

~~ Kirstie ~~


4 thoughts on “Ancient India in Tiger’s Curse || Book Review

  1. I’ve read all the books except Tigers dream which I will read they just made me so happy. I was intrigued and scared for the characters all through the books they were just amazing. I don’t have any other words to say.

    Liked by 1 person

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