Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Check out my interview with author Kersten Hamilton and enter to win a copy of the book, along with a very special prize generously provided by the author herself!

Genre: YA, urban fantasy
322 pages (Hardcover)
Publication Date: November 15th, 2011 by Clarion Books 
Overall Rating: 5/5
Disclaimer: I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Teagan Wylltson has a life one can only envy.  She's a college-bound student with an amazing family: her father is a quirky librarian who claims to be descended from the wizard Merlin, her brother Aidan is a bright and equally eccentric little boy who loves to sing, but has a hardcore grudge against Elvis impersonators.  Teagan's mother is an artist whose favorite subjects are the eerie goblins and creatures from the myths of Ireland, her homeland.  And that is as close as Teagan ever gets to the goblins-- until the arrival of Finn McCumhail, her cousin-by-marriage who has been living on the streets for years and who claims to be the descendant of a mythological goblin hunter.  Finn's arrival immediately shakes up the foundations of Teagan's perfect family, not least because she's falling-- hard-- for the charming, roguish Irish boy.  And when tragedy strikes, only Finn can help Teagan and Aidan collect the shattered pieces of their family.  Together the three must venture into Mag Mell, an ancient world older than time and more deadly than any Chicago slum.  For Mag Mell is the realm of the sidhe: a goblin race strange and alluring yet malevolent.  Their king is the incarnation of Fear itself and he and his subjects will stop at nothing to keep their archenemy Finn from emerging from Mag Mell alive.

I love it when I see a book, think 'That looks great!', and then it turns out to be even better than I imagined.  Tyger Tyger is a phenomenal new addition to YA fantasy.  The story is based in Celtic folklore, and author Kersten Hamilton twists the old tales into an engrossing and fast-paced novel of remarkable fantasy and mythology, adventure, and the spark of a romance which will have readers young and old rapidly turning through the pages.

The plot isn't the only thing that makes Tyger Tyger stand out amongst other books about faeries and otherworldly kin-- the real genius of this book is the characters.  Teagan is a far cry from some of the heroines I read about in YA whose biggest concerns are high school prom and snagging the perfect boyfriend.  The connection between her and Finn was heartfelt and had just the perfect amount of coverage-- I never felt that it made the fast-paced story drag, or that Teagan's love for Finn turned her into a useless protagonist waiting to be rescued by the hero.  More than that, I loved the way Teagan's clever resourcefulness and the way stepped up to take care of her brother.

Finn was a close second for my favorite character-- he's street-smart and daring, not to mention a fierce fighter and the perfect match for Teagan.  The more minor characters never failed to make me smile.  Teagan's best friend Abby Gagliano-- (possibly psychic) girl with Mafia family ties, and Mamieo, Finn's grandmotherly guardian who has had more than a little experience with goblins herself, were both brilliant in their own rights.

I'm a huge fan of faeries, creepy creatures and the like, and Tyger Tyger definitely delivers.  Between the covers we have a host of otherworldly hellhounds, a band of eerie cat sidhe (it's pronounced shee, people), a gruesome water goblin, even a fallen angel.  Kersten Hamilton does a fabulous mash-up with Christianity and the older Pagan Celtic stories, blending them together to create a complex and intriguing world that I can't wait to enter again.

The plot is intricate and complex, with the layers of magic, suspense, and romance skillfully and seamlessly woven together.  I believe that Tyger Tyger is a book which can be enjoyed by both teens and adults who don't normally read YA-- and let's not forget the MG crowd.  I'm definitely going to introduce this book to my little sister.  There is only one thing I disliked about Tyger Tyger, and that is that we didn't get to see more of the story world and the creatures and people who inhabit it (granted, nothing less than a thousand pages would've satisfied me :) )... and the abrupt ending seems destined to leave spellbound readers hanging to discover what will come next.  Like any good series book, I guess.  All that will hopefully be solved with the release of the next book in the Goblin Wars series.  Until the release day, let the frantic rereading and calender ticking-off begin.


Jennifer said...

Great review! I agreed wholeheartedly with all you said about this book and thought you put it very well. I *love* this book and especially loved your comment about the "rereading" and "calendar ticking-off"- so true!! :)

Meghan said...

Another praise, my goodness, reviewers are all telling of this wondrous read. I can't wait to read it. Gotta enter that giveaway.

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