I owe Kersten Hamilton. Twice. First, she introduced me to NetGalley. If you’re not acquainted with NetGalley yet, I’m putting on my commanding voice and ordering you to go over to the website RIGHT NOW. Trust me. Read books before they’re released, for free on your computer. That concept? All sorts of awesome. And Kersten was a love and sent a link and explained the whole thing to me, adding, of course, that I could check out the galley for her novel on the website.
Second, she wrote Tyger Tyger. This book was fresh and interesting and UNIQUE. I alternately laughed and cried over it the other night, and my roommates worried until I looked up with a teary smile and said that I was reading a really good book. After that, they let me finish it in peace. My only real complaint is that the sequel will take so much time to arrive!
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.
True story: I’m a horrible procrastinator. I got the note about this lovely book back in April? May? And didn’t read it until this month. I call this my hoarding tendency. If a book looks REALLY good, and I have access to it, I sometimes hold off on reading it, thinking that I’ll need it to get me out of a funk or to keep me occupied on the Metro or some such. When I know perfectly well that the Metro is always full of interesting people to watch, and that good books should definitely be read NOW.
Luckily, Juju at Tales of Whimsy reviewed this one and was super-enthusiastic about it ("beguiling, fresh, earnest?" sounds like love!). Then Heather of BURIED IN BOOKS urged me on by saying that it had zombies. And as it happens, I’m in the midst of the September Zombies Event. So…done deal. Turns out the ‘zombies’ are a sort of disgusting cat goblin, but that’s perfectly fine. Zombie = zombie equals zombie. It counts.
About the story: Tea thinks her family is normal. Well, weird maybe, but normal, when tragic things start happening,… and she begins to see things. Or does she? Then her cousin Finn arrives to disrupt the life she has all mapped out, and trouble follows him wherever he goes. Thus begins the adventure of a family caught between two worlds. It’s full of Irish legend and myth, and the rich descriptions of the creatures on both sides (or is it worlds?) are simply gorgeous.
I don’t think I can praise the inclusion of Irish myth enough. It was new to me (and probably will be to a lot of readers, even if they’re fantasy buffs), but it was woven in right with the rest of the story, and used to such an effect that I felt surprised and gratified when I figured things out. That may be a good test for a well-written book – if it teaches you something new in such a way that you are only impressed, and don’t feel ‘taught.’ This was such a one.
Hamilton’s story tugs on the emotions. Even while I alternately appreciated the fantastical elements and wondered a bit at certain gaps in the plot, I was feeling everything intensely. It’s not perfectly told, but I connected to it. It’s rather violent in parts, and some decisions made by the characters were hard – so hard! But I never felt cheated or wronged. Instead, it was emotional, un-put-downable, and a terrific start to a series that I’ll be reading to the very end.
Recommended for: fans of fantasy and fairy tales, emotive and romantic (in the best sense of the word!) YA lit, darkness with a heaping side of hope, worlds just beyond our own, and adventures that aren’t all that they seem.