fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsTyger, Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

I wanted to love Tyger Tyger. I’ve got a soft spot for teenagers-in-faeryland stories, and this one gets off to a terrific start. Teagan, the heroine, is working at a Chicago zoo; she plans to pursue a related career when she grows up. I can’t praise Kersten Hamilton highly enough for giving Teagan a concrete aspiration like this. The YA paranormal field is alarmingly full of heroines who seem bland without the magic or without the male lead, and have no idea what they want to do with their lives. The novel hits a snag pretty quickly, though, with the introduction of Teagan’s best friend Abby. Abby is so hyper she’s exhausting to read about. She’s rather like the Tasmanian Devil masquerading as a teenage girl.

We then meet Finn MacCumhaill, an Irish Traveler cousin whom Teagan’s family takes in. When he arrives, so do the nasty goblins of the Sidhe, and this means a lot of discussion of concepts from Irish mythology. The trouble is, the dialogue concerning Irish mythology doesn’t work as spoken dialogue. When I read a book, it plays like a movie in my mind, and I imagine the characters actually saying the dialogue. So (for example) when Finn says something about the bean sidhe, and Teagan replies “You mean ‘banshee’?”, and then Finn tells her that’s what non-Travelers call her, the whole exchange is jarring. The two spellings are pronounced similarly enough that the conversation just wouldn’t go like that. For readers who like to “hear” the dialogue in their minds, this will be distracting.

Eventually tragedy strikes. Hamilton makes the unusual decision to skip ahead several months at this point, omitting the immediate aftermath. This is also jarring, and blunts the emotional impact of the event on the reader.

After this time jump, the book does get better. Another disastrous event leads Teagan, Finn, and Teagan’s little brother Aiden into a conflict with the goblins. The goblins are incredibly creepy, and Aiden is wonderful. His dialogue is cute and his “kid logic” is sometimes just what’s needed to navigate the faery world.

Unfortunately, the plot itself never grabbed me. I went several days without reading any of Tyger Tyger, and then realized that — rather than being anxious to get back into the story — I’d in fact forgotten what was going on. Also, while Teagan was a vibrant character in the beginning, the other characters steal the spotlight from her too often in the rest of the novel. I’m not sure if it’s the book or if it’s me, but I’m giving up on this one. A different reader may well find Tyger Tyger rewarding.

Goblin Wars — (2010-2013) Young adult. Publisher: Teagan Wylltson’s best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures — goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty — are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn’t worried. Her life isn’t in danger. In fact, it’s perfect. She’s on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She’s focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems. Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn’s a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he’s crazy or he’s been haunting Abby’s dreams, because he’s talking about goblins, too… and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby’s right. The goblins are coming.

Kersten Hamilton Goblin Wars 1. Tyger Tyger 2. In the Forests of the NightKersten Hamilton Goblin Wars 1. Tyger Tyger 2. In the Forests of the NightKersten Hamilton Goblin Wars 1. Tyger Tyger 2. In the Forests of the Night 3. When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears (2013)

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  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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