I actually received this book on Tuesday to review for Front Street Reviews from Juno Books, a new imprint focusing on fantasy with strong female protagonists. The timing was just too perfect; I couldn't not read and review the book for Debut a Debut...
Jade Tiger by Jenn Reese
Song Shan is only twelve years-old when a disaster tears apart her family, destroying everything she holds dear. She flees her Chinese homeland entrusted with a small jade tiger and the legacy of a secret society of female fighters. The tiger is just one piece of the mystical Jade Circle that has been at the heart of her family for almost fifteen hundred years.
The Jade Circle is “the cornerstone of [her family’s] past and [their] future, of [their] power and [their] pride” (32). As an adult Shan is driven by the unbalanced influence of the tiger and she knows she cannot be content until the circle is reunited and in the right hands. Shan’s quest to recover the four missing statues takes her across three continents, testing the limits of the martial arts skill she has cultivated since girlhood and forcing her to confront the demons in her past.
Jade Tiger is a fantasy novel with a touch of romance. It’s also a thriller. Fast paced and compulsively readable, the novel is over almost before you know it. Reese’s love of the martial arts is evident throughout the novel, imbuing a story full of fight scenes with an air of authenticity.
A sympathetic character fully realized by Reese, Shan’s development over the course of the novel is extremely satisfying. Some of the supporting characters, however, are a bit one-dimensional. Shan’s love interest Ian, for example, is a good guy to the extent of having no real personality flaws. That being said, Reese does people the novel with a wide variety of supporting characters including an academic Don Juan, a one-eyed bruiser, and a feisty sixty-year-old with more martial arts skill in her little finger than most have in their whole bodies.
While Reese’s freshman effort lacks a certain sophistication, it does show a great deal of potential. This reviewer fully expects to see more from Reese in the future.
To learn more about Jade Tiger and its author, visit Reese's website.
This review (or something closely approximating it) will be appearing on Front Street Reviews in the next few days.