“White Tiger” by Kylie Chan (Harper, 2011)

White Tiger

Kylie Chan’s Dark Heavens trilogy has been a popular bestseller in Australian and Asia, with its fascinating portrayal of Chinese mythology in a modern setting, combined with martial arts, some strong women characters, and an entertaining diverse cast.  White Tiger is a thrilling fantasy with a great story, which definitely sways over to the romantic side at times, but overall keeps readers hooked with a fascinating world, compelling and complex characters, and a gripping storyline that will have readers wondering what will happen next.

Emma Donahoe is an Australian living in Hong Kong, teaching kids English.  She has had enough of Miss Kwan and quits her teaching job, and then on the same day is offered to become a full time nanny for darling Simone, daughter to John Chen, a rich and powerful Honk Kong businessman, who also happens to be very good looking.  She is offered the job for a large amount of money and thinks she’s getting the best gig possible, and loves working with and looking after Simone.  Then there’s Leo – a big American hunk who happens to be gay but keeps Emma very entertained; he also is apparently Simone’s bodyguard.  This is just the first weird step Emma takes into a world she knows nothing about, while John decides how much to reveal to her of his world, and whether her life will be at stake.

But the decision is made and Emma begins to learn of the world of Chinese gods and goddesses who are alive and well in the present day; John happens to be one of them in fact, while Simone is the offspring of a god and a human.  Emma also begins to learn martial arts, training under John and Leo, revealing and flourishing in her full potential.  And yet John is weakened, having spent so long on Earth, but needs to make sure Simone is protected, which means Emma needs to be ready for anything.

Kylie Chan has done her work and research, having lived with her Chinese husband in Honk Kong for a decade, as well as engaging in thorough study of Chinese mythology and culture, as well as martial arts.  At times the love story between John and Emma drags on to an irritating degree, but then great action scenes involving mighty gods and demons takes over.  Readers will be hooked to the end, ready for the sequel, Red Phoenix.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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