Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Tyger Tyger

TYGER TYGER (Goblin Wars #1)
Kersten Hamilton
Young Adult
320 pages
Houghton Mifflin
November 15, 2010
Received from publisher

Teagan's life is going according to plan. She has a job she loves that will put her on track for a scholarship, a loving family, and a slightly less than sane but loyal best friend. Things are as they should be in Teagan's world.

Only things are about to change. Abby is seeing things in her dreams. Disturbing creatures, terrifying and cruel, bent on finding Teagan. It would be easy to dismiss Abby's dreams as nonsense, except some of the things Abby describes Teagan has seen herself in her mother's paintings. Glorious landscapes and breathtaking scenery shine through her mother's canvases, but that glory is also dimmed by the portrayal of creatures just like those Abby described.

Teagan's world is further complicated by the arrival of Finn Mac Cumhaill, a beautiful Irish distraction she doesn't want or need in her life. His presence is electrifying, and just as Teagan is ready to ignore both his effect on her and Abby's talk of goblins, Finn begins regaling her with his own stories of goblinkind. Surely, both Abby and Finn are playing a joke right? Goblins aren't real, they're just stories.

But Teagan's story is just beginning, and it's rougher, grittier and has more consequences than any of the fables she's heard before.

A truly delightful beginning to a darkly whimsical series. I'm thoroughly encouraged by the prevalence of strong, capable female protagonists in young adult literature lately. Teagan is fantastic, intelligent and focused on her future, with ambition, charm, and wit in spades. Though the presence of a wickedly handsome boy with a delicious accent is distracting to her, she isn't overwhelmed by him. Instead, he seems to compliment and enhance the characteristics that are already present, and the romance takes a back seat to the main storyline. Now, I'm a fan of a romantic plotline, so I'm hoping to see that develop in the sequel, but I enjoyed the subtlety of their feelings in this first installment.

Teagan's younger brother Aiden is an absolute joy. He possesses the blunt honesty of so many children who have yet to develop a sense of tact, and has no qualms about making embarrassing observations about those around him. If he catches Finn and Teagan sharing a blushing, emotional gaze, he's sure to point out their resemblance to different flavors of Kool-Aid. He, Teagan, and Finn all engage in witty banter that keeps the reader laughing at the innocuous while the story becomes increasingly precarious, and provides a levity that is a relief from the depth of their current struggles.

The characters are strong and engaging and the world-building is well executed without being overpowering. My main criticism though would be of our villain. Throughout the entire story we are told of his varying degrees of nefariousness, his torture and incarceration of the innocent, and his manipulation of an entire race. He has killed without remorse, he is a god among the goblins, and he is to be feared for his malevolence. And for all that, Teagan, Aiden and Finn are able to temporarily stymie him with seemingly little effort. I expected a little more conflict for all the buildup, but I know the more epic showdown is yet to come as the story continues.

Additionally, though the mythology and folklore is quite fascinating, it's also slightly confusing at times. There are a lot of names for the reader to keep track of, and sometimes the different types of sidhe and their specific allegiances are difficult to manage. Overall, however, Tyger Tyger is fanciful yet serious, humorous yet sobering, and a beautiful start to what is sure to be a very entertaining series.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. I've heard a lot of good things about this book. This might have to be my next at work distraction... shhh.

  2. Sounds wonderful. I hadn't heard of this one but I will def be looking into it.

  3. Aiden was definitely my favorite character! I may have to skim this book again since it's been so long since I read it. Wouldn't be fair to try and write a review from memory. Yay for netgalley! :) Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. I have to read this book. I have heard so much about it. Looks very interesting. Nice review.

  5. I've heard that this is a fantastic book! I love the fantasy aspect... what a great book to escape in! Gotta check this out.

  6. I definitely love the sound of this one...great review :)

  7. ParaJunkee - It's definitely a great distraction and a fun read:)

    Tori - It's on NetGalley in the Teens/YA section if you're interested:)

    Mollie - Aiden was my favorite as well. I love when kids say things at inappropriate times, it never fails to make me laugh.

    Savannah- Thanks! It's a good read, very quick and entertaining.

    Emidy - If you like fantasy, you should like this one:) Hope you give it a try!

    Melissa - Thank you:) I wasn't sure about it at first, I thought it might be too young (maybe the word "goblin" made me think that), but it's a good one.

  8. Oooo awesome review! I loved this one :)

  9. I've never heard of this book, but now I'm going to put in my tbr pile. Thanks for the great review!

  10. Adding to the award love - you have one on my blog too :)

  11. Great review! Goodreads has a giveaway for this book right now.

  12. I was really impressed with this book. I'm looking forward to the sequel which I've heard is even darker :)

  13. Great review! This one definitely sounds interesting. :)

  14. I've heard good things about this book. I'm glad you liked it pretty well. And Teagan is a really cool name.

  15. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your review - I've been wondering whether or not I should add this to my TBR list, but your review has just officially decided that for me now. :o) Can't wait to read it!

  16. I loved this book! It was so vivid and lush, the setting alone would have won me over but I really enjoyed the characters too. I'm glad you enjoyed it too!

  17. Hi.

    Like the book creeper I am, I raced over here to search for your review because I still don't get it, but for some reason I feel desperate to understand. Does that make sense?

    Based on the positive reviews I've read about Tyger Tyger, yours included, it almost feels like I've read a different story. I do agree that Aiden was a joy, but that wasn't enough for me. Also, like you just mentioned, the face off with the villain was so underwhelming.

    Maybe I need to reread? Or maybe I just need to get lost. LOL