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Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Review: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 320 pages 
Publisher: Clarion Books (November 15, 2010)
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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.

"Please, Teagan Wyllston's fingers curled in American Sign Language as she spoke. Trade sweater for banana? She leaned over the fence around the chimp enclosure. Come on Cindy, she coaxed. Be a good girl. Trade." 

Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book
"Teagan threw off her sheet and ran down the stairs.

Finn was at the back door, his kit strap over his shoulder.

"You're leaving?"

"I am."


"Because the cat-sidhe are not the worst things that follow me, tea. I'm sorry I brought them here."

"So there are shadows with nothing to cast them?"

"There are, and I'm hoping your brother didn't really see one. The best thing I can do for Aiden..for you..is leave. …" 

"Lock your door. Turn on all the lights. The goblins are coming."

Drawing heavily from Irish folklore and mythology, Hamilton brings the past to life with her own brand of goblins running amok around the normal city streets of present-day Chicago. From dark, cruel fae to reanimated cat corpses possessed by malicious sidhe spirits, these evil creatures kept me captivated right from the start. Some I had read about before, but many were entirely new. All seemed to be united though in one singular purpose-to torment and destroy as many lives as possible. 

Initially I assumed that Teagan's best friend Abby would be her biggest ally in the war against the goblins. After all, it was Abby who had the dream precluding their arrival, right? But Abby continued to dismiss Teagan whenever she  tried confiding in her.  Now shouldn't Abby have been the one person who actually believed Teagan before all others? This confused me a bit.  As for Tegan's younger brother Aiden, I know he was important to the plot, but I thought he tended to steal the show a little too much from time to time. I hope in the future the romance between Finn and Teagan is pushed front and center stage, while Aiden fades a bit more into the background.

At one point in the story, a span of several months was completely skipped. I suspect this was intentional, but some major events were glossed over that I would've liked to have been a part of.  I wanted to read how Teagan internalized them and managed to keep going through it all.  Which leads me to Finn….ahhh Finn. His character was so well-developed that he  made my heart race every time he appeared on the scene.  I ate up every scrap of information about his heritage. I loved that he was descended from the great Fionn MacCumhail and the Irish Travelers too. Hamilton's description of Finn's mannerisms and his tell-tale Irish brogue made him seem so real that I wanted to reach into the book and pull him out. 

The best aspect about TYGER TYGER for me was the way Hamilton reinvented elements of Celtic mythology and folklore in such a way that you really could imagine these things happening in any city- maybe even your own. In my opinion, the most thrilling moments were those in which Teagan, Aiden and Finn reluctantly entered the perilous sidhe world of Mag Mell. This was a place so dangerous that only one human ever made it out alive. I loved how this rag-tag trio of misfits banded together to take on Mag Mell, knowing full well that once they stepped in, they  might never be able to set foot out again.   

TYGER TYGER was a thrilling start to an electrifying new series. I have never read a book featuring goblins as downright scary as this. Fans of Julie Kagawa's The Iron King will definitely enjoy this book (I know I sure did). When Teagan enters Mag Mell to save someone she loves, I held my breath, savoring each page and enjoying the ride. Suspense, action and malicious sidhe creatures from long forgotten Irish folklore—what more can you ask for? I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT, debuting in 2011.  

Kersten Hamilton is a prolific children's writer known for her fast-paced, dramatic storylines. She is the author of twenty-four books for children and works with the house church movement in her home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Official Website


Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I am so glad you liked this. I just love this book! Ooo that Finn! Such a hottie.

Bere said...

Excellent review, Kim! I've heard such great things on it and it makes me all the more excited to get this book. Isn't the trailer awesome? I loved it. Can't wait to read this one. Thanks, Kim! =]