Complex, ambitious ... In less capable hands, this could feel gimmicky. But Choo pulls it off brilliantly, never once slipping into territory that feels silly or coincidental ... The magic of The Night Tiger, then, is not in where or what or even who. It is in the why ... Choo builds characters that are rich and nuanced, with fully imagined backstories that are revealed slowly as the story builds ... a fine example of historical fiction, a work of magical realism, a ghost story, a mystery, a romance, a coming-of-age tale. Each of these is impressive, but most impressive is Choo's ability to weave them all together in a way that feels authentic, and to use that intricate process to tell a story of colonialism and self-determination, love and death, family and tradition.
The Night Tiger is a galloping good read that’s blessedly free of political polemics and post-colonial self-righteousness. Instead, what author Yangsze Choo has given readers is a darn good yarn ... To her credit, Choo manages to intertwine...plots and subplots with themes of superstition, Confucianism, and the desire for personal fulfillment versus the tug of familial loyalty. Altogether, a bravura performance ... Choo’s skill in creating a dynamic, vibrant, non-Western cosmos rivals that of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Half of a Yellow Sun ... Ren’s porous sense of reality (and Choo’s smart use of the present tense) gives his passages a propulsive vitality that grips the reader’s attention. Ren doesn’t know what is going to happen next, and neither does the reader. Conversely, Ji Lin relates her story in the past tense, but neither she nor the reader benefits from hindsight. But perhaps this is just as well. Any probing self-analysis might have resulted in a more plodding novel, one that wouldn’t have been half as entertaining. As it is, readers may not be moved by The Night Tiger. But they certainly will be grabbed.
Author Yangsze Choo takes readers on an immersive ride into the past with her entertaining mystery-fantasy adventure ... Choo does an excellent job of capturing the sights and sounds of pre-war Malaya ... The Night Tiger is a slow burn of a novel that hints early and often at regional myths and legends ... In the end, the roaring tiger is the least of their worries, and the villain turns out to be someone more than up to the horrors that Choo has promised from the very beginning.