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The Night Tiger

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,742 ratings  ·  606 reviews
A sweeping historical novel about a dancehall girl and an orphan boy whose fates entangle over an old Chinese superstition about men who turn into tigers.

When 11-year-old Ren's master dies, he makes one last request of his Chinese houseboy: that Ren find his severed finger, lost years ago in an accident, and reunite it with his body. Ren has 49 days, or else his master's s
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Flatiron Books
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,742 ratings  ·  606 reviews

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Emily May
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Malaya, with its mix of Malays, Chinese, and Indians, is full of spirits: a looking-glass world governed by unsettling rules.

3 stars. I may need to think some more about this one. I'm giving it a tentative 3, rounded up to 4 because I absolutely loved that this historical mystery was steeped in Chinese and Malaysian mythology and superstition.

For the most part, this was such a gorgeous and evocative read. The Night Tiger is set in 1930s Malaya and leans heavily on folklore and stories of ghos
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
This was so great! I was thrown off a bit by the romance, because this book would've been fine and dandy without it. I loved learning more about the Malaysian culture through this story, I thought the somewhat magical bits in the story were executed so well, and the Chinese folklore was super interesting to learn about. It's an engaging read with an excellent pay off.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Night Tiger has a little bit of something for everyone! Fans of this Author's debut book, The Ghost Bride will love this sweeping tale set in Malaya (Malaysia) in the 1930's. There is a lot going on in this book that I am only going to give a brief synopsis of the main characters.

Ren is an 11-year-old boy on a mission to locate his former masters missing finger so that he can bury it with his body. He has 49 days to do so for his master to be a rest. If he fails to find the missing finger, h
Yangsze Choo writes an enthralling and exhilarating piece of well researched historical fiction set in the British colony of Malaya (Malaysia) of the 1930s. The fraught and upset British doctor is dying and worried about what will happen to his soul upon death. He had been gifted a 11 year old Chinese house boy, Ren, by a friend. Ren is a kind, loyal and compassionate boy and when his dying master on his deathbed asks that he finds his severed finger and bury it with his dead body to prevent his ...more
Elyse Walters
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Time is running out: there are only 20 days left before Dr. Mac Farlane’s forty-nine days of the soul are over. If by then he can’t find the finger, he’ll have failed. How will his old master rest? Ren remembers Dr. MacFarlane’s last days, shivering fevers. And then the dreams, the waking nightmares in which the old man would cry for mercy, or crawl slavering on all fours. If Auntie Kwan had still been with them, she would have taken charge, but in the end there was only Ren”.
“A gust of wind s
Kylie D
An intriguing book, set in 1930s Malaya, following the lives over a few weeks of dance hall girl Ji Lin and house boy Ren. An intricately woven tale, full of magical realism, Ji Lin and Ren come together over an amputated finger, of all things. It is a beautifully told story, the characters come to life on the page, through their interactions and their dreams. And in the background is always the threat of a man-eating tiger roaming the district, or is it a weretiger...
3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I already read Yangsze Choo’s first novel, The Ghost Bride (my review here , so when I saw that a new book by the author is coming out I had to jump at the opportunity to read it. Unfortunately for The Night Tiger, I read it with the first one in my head and it was unavoidable to make comparisons. In my opinion, this second novel came out short. It was still an enjoyable read, easy to get through.

As the blurb states, the setting is 1930 Malaya. Ren, a 11 years old orphan is on a 49 days quest t
Diane S ☔
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
3.5 Malaysian folklore, history, mystery, magical realism, things I enjoy in a book, and there were many parts of this book I enjoyed immensely. I enjoyed the characters, Ren, a young boy, former assistant to a master who has died. He is missing a finger, and Ren has 49 days to find it and return it to his master's grave. Without it his master's spirit will wander for eternity. Ji Lin is a young woman who is working in a dance hall for extra money to pay off her mother's debts. Her step father a ...more

The Night Tiger offers a stunning look at culture, history, and Chinese superstition. Told in two alternating perspectives, and set in 1931 Malaya (Malaysia), this is a story of loyalty and loneliness, death and distressed souls, and man-eating weretigers.

Spoiler contains my spin on the book synopsis: (view spoiler)
"The stripes on its brilliant coat ripple; the yellow eyes glare like lanterns. Ren can only drop his gaze. The tiger makes a deep hrff sound. Then it turns and walks away, with deliberate tread that's heavy and delicate at the same time. Where is it going?"

Yangsze Choo presents a story with remarkable scope like the outspreading of a dancer's fan. She fashions the edges around colonial Malaysia in the 1930's. Malaysia is filled with folklore, superstitions, masters and servants, rivalries, and
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THE NIGHT TIGER was an OK read. There were some things about this book that I really enjoyed, and other things I didn't. The book is set in 1930s Malaya (Malaysia), when it was still under British rule. There are two main characters: Ren, an 11-year-old houseboy to British doctor William Acton, and Ji Lin, a dressmaker moonlighting as a dance hall girl. Their stories end up interconnecting due to a severed finger in a vial that Ji Lin obtai
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Brianna Goodman

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
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Filled with superstition, ghosts and the afterlife, the Night Tiger explores colonial Malaysia in 1930s. Five people are brought together through a connection of the five Confucian virtues, while mysterious events with no rational explanation start to happen around them.

Yangsze Choo has created a whimsical imaginary world of ghosts and spirits that was unlike anything I have read before. I was not sure whether I liked the book at first, but it progressively grew on me and eventually I found myse
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: malaysia, 2019-read
"The Night Tiger" is light fiction with a YA feel that uses Malaysia in the 1930s as a backdrop - I was expecting to learn more about the country and its history, but I was mistaken: This book is obviously intended to be an entertaining mystery mixed with a love story, and it was way too cutesy for me (also, I'm a book snob :-)). The novel operates with two converging storylines, one of them focusing on 11-yea-old Ren who is on a quest to find his late master's amputated finger which has to be b ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, 2019
[3.5 stars]

I think this book could've done with a little editing down; at times it was redundant and drawn out. But overall the story was very engaging, I really liked the two main characters, and it was set in a place I'd never read about before. I enjoyed the sort of fantastical elements and how it tied in folklore as well.
There will be an online buddy read of this book using the hashtag #NightTigerTogether Reading begins on 18th February with ten chapters a week being discussed on Twitter and Instagram on Monday evenings (@Quercusbooks).

The Night Tiger is a beautifully written historical fiction set in the 1930s that is rich in cultural detail about British ruled Malaya (modern day Malaysia) with heavy overtones of magical realism and mythology. It follows the story of Ren, a young orphaned houseboy who is
Initial thoughts:
When I won this book through Goodreads giveaways I thought it was going to be so much more. I was excited about its premise: a historical fiction set in 1930's Malaysia with elements of Chinese folklore and magical realism. The mystery aspect of this book and the tie in concept of the Confucian virtues personified were my favorite parts of the book. I really appreciated the intuition shown by the characters Ren and Ji Lin and kept turning the pages hoping that Yangsze Choo would
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 1930's Malaya (Malaysia), an orphaned Chinese eleven year old, Ren, was houseboy to Dr. MacFarlane. A deathbed promise was made to the doctor. Ren had 49 days to find the severed finger of his dead master and reunite and bury it with his body or MacFarlane's soul will roam the earth for eternity.

Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dance hall instructor at the May Flower Dance Hall where men can purchase tickets and choose a dance partner. The men often have "wandering hands". Ji
Historical fiction with a touch of mystery and dark fable-esque vibes is my favourite kind of fiction at the moment! Wandering souls, (un)lucky numbers, mysterious deaths, forbidden love, and mythical creatures, what’s not to love about Yangsze Choo’s The Night Tiger ?

I was hoping to pick this one up after reading The Ghost Bride, but having tried a chapter I knew I couldn’t stop and simply had to find out what happens to Ren and Ji Lin. It’s the first novel set in Malaya that I’ve ever read an
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
That was not what I was expecting... review to come.
Mel (Epic Reading)
Jan 29, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: own-ebook, own-print
Loved Ghost Bride. Very excited for new material from Yangsze!
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When culture meets history and Chinese illusions, it shapes a perfect story which we rate it 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟, The Night Tiger is our Book Of The January and we're loving the fabulous writings from Yangsze!
The imagination within the book goes beyond creativity,
It really has such an interesting and intriguing plot, the structure of the book is very fascinating and unique and I can see this book in a very Big Major Picture, the characters are very well connected and I really loved their strength and faith
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019

This was just as fucking weird as I was hoping it would be! A story about ghosts, ghost tigers, amputated fingers, dancers, ancient traditions and mysterious deaths - this was SUCH an interesting story that kept me wanting to read from the moment I picked it up! Knocked off one star for the ending feeling not 100% satisfactory (it feels like its setting up for a sequel but I'm pretty sure this is a standalone??) and the middle getting a LITTLE draggy plus the romance was a little ehem od
Jennifer Parr
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was so beautifully written and so magical that I didn’t want to put it down. The settings were so lush and visceral and the characters were fantastically fleshed out.
Jul 18, 2018 marked it as to-read
*whispers* I need this book in my liiiiife *sits here and waits*
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This isn’t the sort of book I’d normally choose to read but the Malaysian setting and the Chinese folklore attracted me to it and I’m on holiday so needed some light reading (in between exhausting sightseeing and sampling of local food and wine, hic!).

An orphaned house servant, Ren, has to find his deceased master’s severed finger and bury it with him within 49 days of his death so that his soul can rest in peace. His master may have been a weretiger which makes this quest literally a matter of
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 stars, as there are 5 fingers to a human hand.

WHEW! Outstanding magical mixture which will be tricky to review without giving any spoilers. I can only say I'll try.

What genre is this? Honestly and quite frankly- it's such a mixture! It's historical fiction of 1931 Malaya (Malaysia now) in the Kinta Valley area. With all that cultural and ethnic identity mix-master blending that it implies. We have colonial Europeans, mostly British, and numerous Chinese descended, but also Tamil and those of
The Night Tiger is a book I would classify as "insidiously engrossing". The book captures you slowly and sneakily (hence the previous description used) with Yangsze Choo's writing, pacing and intriguing blend of historical fiction, magic, culture, superstition, love story and mystery.

This book was such a great read because it was multilayered. It wasn't just a historical fiction story. It wasn't just about a boy trying to return a finger to his master's grave because of a cultural superstition/
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, diverse-lit
I absolutely LOVED this book. I loved the backdrop of 1930 colonial Malaysia and the many contrasts - the living vs. the dead, the colonizers vs. the natives, the men vs. women, the masters vs. the servants.. If you are not familiar with Asian folklore / superstitions, I can see some parts being hard to relate to. But I LOVED IT. There’s a lot of “magical realism,” throughout the story, where the living and the dead are connected and can affect each other. While some may not believe it, I sure d ...more
Paula W
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
I enjoyed it. Didn't love it, but it was fine. The step-sibling romance was a bit cringy for me, but it was fine. I hated how the author tried to make me feel bad for a POS human, but it was fine. The fantasy components were found mostly in dream sequences, which I don't normally enjoy, but it was fine.
Nothing groundbreaking here, but it was fine.
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Around the Year i...: The Night Tiger, by Yangsze Choo 1 7 Mar 20, 2019 06:01AM  
Book of The Month: The Night Tiger 9 54 Feb 07, 2019 06:11AM  
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Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. Due to a childhood spent in various countries, she can eavesdrop (badly) in several languages. After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant before writing her first novel. Yangsze eats and reads too much, and often does both at the same time. You can follow her blog at or on Twitter @yangsz ...more
“We were a chocolate-box family, I thought. Brightly wrapped on the outside and oozing sticky darkness within.” 4 likes
“In Cantonese, two was a good number because it made a pair. Three was also good because it was a homophone for sang, or life. Four, of course, was bad because it sounded like death. Five was good again because it made a complete set, not just of the Confucian Virtues, but also for the elements of wood, fire, water, metal, and earth.” 0 likes
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