Jade Tiger
Jade Tiger
Jenn Reese

Reviewed by Karen Morse

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 romance as well as a fantasy novel steeped in Buddhist philosophy and Shaolin kung fu.  Shan's tenacious personality finds its match in Ian, a cute, geeky professor type, who has been influenced by the Circle's crane statue.   While Ian grounds Shan, his character is a bit one-dimensional; he's a good guy to the extent of having no significant personality flaws.  That being said, careful readers will notice that Ian does seem to bear some striking similarities to Shan's father (a character barely seen in the novel).

JADE TIGER is also a thriller.  Fast paced and compulsively readable, the novel is over almost before you know it.  The author’s love of the martial arts is evident throughout the novel, imbuing a story full of fight scenes with an air of authenticity.  Though Shan is an expert fighter, her character is made real in both her imperfections and in her extreme sensitivity to them. 

A sympathetic character fully realized by Reese, Shan’s development over the course of the novel is extremely satisfying.   Additionally Reese peoples JADE TIGER 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.

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