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The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Historical fiction

The Night Tiger

Early Release

This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Yangsze Choo

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Quick take

A missing finger is the eerie link between a houseboy, a dancehall girl, and a man-eating tiger in this magical tale set in colonial Malaysia.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Puzzle

    Puzzle

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical

    Magical

Synopsis

Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions.

Eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy Ren also has a secret, a promise he must fulfill to his dead master: to find his master’s severed finger and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.

As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths wrack the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Night Tiger.
The Night Tiger

1

Kamunting, Malaya, May 1931

The old man is dying. Ren can see it in the shallow breaths, the sunken face, and the skin stretched thinly over his cheekbones. Yet he wants the shutters open. Irritably, he beckons the boy over, and Ren, his throat tight as though he’s swallowed a stone, throws open the second-story window.

Outside is a brilliant sea of green: the waving tops of jungle trees and a blue sky like a fever dream. The tropical glare makes Ren flinch. He moves to shield his master with his shadow, but the old man stops him with a gesture. Sunlight emphasizes the tremor of his hand with its ugly stump of a missing finger. Ren remembers how just a few months ago that hand could still calm babies and suture wounds.

The old man opens his watery blue eyes, those colorless foreign eyes that had frightened Ren so much in the beginning, and whispers something. The boy bends his cropped head closer.

“Remember.”

“The boy nods.

“Say it.” The hoarse rasp is fading.

“When you are dead, I will find your missing finger,” Ren replies in a clear, small voice.

“And?”

He hesitates. “And bury it in your grave.”

“Good.” The old man draws a rattling breath. “You must get it back before the forty-nine days of my soul are over.”

The boy has done many such tasks before, quickly and competently. He’ll manage, even as his narrow shoulders convulse.

“Don’t cry, Ren.”

At times like this the boy looks far younger than his years. The old man is sorry—he wishes he could do it himself, but he’s exhausted. Instead, he turns his face to the wall.

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Why I love it

If someone told me there’s a book out there that’s part history, part love story, part coming-of-age, part magical tale that is also a well-paced book that clocks in at under 400 pages, I’d be instantly suspicious. It sounds too good to be true. But here’s the thing: This book exists. It’s called The Night Tiger, and it’s epic and pleasing in every possible way.

The book follows two main characters: Ji Lin, a dressmaker by day and dancehall girl by night who dreams of becoming a doctor (if only her stepfather would let her); and Ren, a kindhearted houseboy so loyal to his late master that he’ll stop at nothing to reunite the man’s missing finger with his body. They also happen to be complete strangers who are somehow linked by a mysterious force—one that connects them with others (both dead and alive) who might just cause them harm.

This is a book that has something for everyone. There’s a central mystery—will Ren find that missing finger?—to satisfy puzzle-solving readers. There’s a will-they-won’t-they love story to tug at the heartstrings of every romantic. There’s a touch of magic for fantasy fans; a portrait of colonial Malaysia for history buffs; and enough family drama to please those looking for a moving saga. Equal parts nail-biter and heartwarmer, this book transported me into a world entirely unlike my own—one I’m eager to revisit.

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Member ratings (6,152)

  • Faith M.

    Aurora, CO

    This book is on my favorites shelf. It changed POV of characters, which usually annoys me, but for this story I didn’t mind. I loved it so much I can’t express in words how much it kept me on my toes!

  • Christy H.

    Kingsport, TN

    Absolutely beautiful! I loved getting a chance to read about a culture I’m not as familiar with and folklore I didn’t know. The story was enchanting from the start. The Ghost Bride is also wonderful.

  • Meredith B.

    San Antonio, TX

    I have never, ever closed a book when finished and clapped. This may very well be one of my most favorite books of all time. Hands down. One of my favorite BOTM selections. I’m hoping for a sequel. ????

  • Katie T.

    Dover, NH

    I adored this novel. The characters’ stories were seamlessly interwoven to create an imaginative, colorful, beautifully written story. I was so sad to close the final page and leave this world behind!

  • Lauren P.

    Huntington, WV

    This is my favorite BOTM since Spinning Silver! It was a great history, mystery romance with awesome cultural ties! Loved it! If you liked the Astonishing Color of After you’ll love this one too! ????

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