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Book Review: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

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Teagan Wylltson is a typical young teenager. She has her best friend Abby Gagliano, and she loves working in the clinic with the animals.The training with the chimps requires sign language, and Teagan is very good at it. After her usual Thursday at the clinic, she heads home, with no clue of what is in store for her or her family.

She is met by her best friend Abby Gagliano, Abby considers herself psychic and has had a dream where Teagan is being hunted by goblins. They have been best friends forever, but Teagan finds the whole story silly and makes sure Abby knows it. Abby is well aware that Teagan’s mom is an illustrator and writer of children’s books featuring the very same goblins. The illustrations are so well done it feels as though the goblins are alive, so Abby’s dreams are no surprise.

At home, there is company. Ms. Skinner is from social services and is there about Teagan’s cousin Finn Mac Cumhaill, who needs a place to stay, and the Wylltson’s appear to be the only ones available.

Teagan’s younger brother Aiden is special — he does not speak and he has an amazing way with direction. He is afraid of many thing but Elvis impersonators are the worst. As her parents go to pick up Finn, Teagan settles in to play with Aiden.

When they return with Finn, she finds there is something dark about him, the way he looks deeply at everything, identifying all the ways in and out — he seems dangerous. But there is more, much more, Aiden likes him, and welcomes him to the fold. Aiden is not good with others but Finn is the exception. She too finds an instant attraction. So she is cautious, but at the same time excited that he is here. He is also different, more edgy, seeing things that no one else seems to see.

When this difference starts affecting Teagan, first with her job and then with the things she herself begins to see, she is afraid. Finn makes a decision to leave the family before the danger finds them, but it is too late.

First Teagan’s mother dies mysteriously, and then her father disappears, and it is up to Aiden, Teagan, and Finn to find the answers. First, they must find Mamieo — Gaelic for grandmum — and she will help them find their way. But will they be able to get to her before it is too late?

Teagan is a funny and likeable character, she has great interplay with her friend Abby, and she is a typical teenage girl. She is actually a bit more mature than some, with her job at the clinic and her closeness and care of her younger brother. The main problem is that she has begun to see things that others cannot, and she has found herself in a position that a young girl should not have to be in. It is up to her to save her family.

Aiden is a special child. He has some great depths, and yet he has some strange fears. He is smart but is not very socially developed. Nevertheless, he has a love for his family, and his innate directional ability is a wonder.

Finn is a handsome young man, too long on his own. He has been hunted and has learned the streets in the hard way. His presence has put the Wylltson family in danger although he is the only one that can help them.

Tyger Tyger is a fast paced and interesting book. It is hilarious in many of the interactions, and yet has a sad and haunting quality as well. The characters are very well written, and easy to identify with. Ms. Hamilton has done a wonderful job of building a world within a world that only a very rare few can see, and the imagination and storytelling is both bold and exciting.

Tyger Tyger is a YA novel but I would recommend this book for the older young adult. It is fun and yet it is also very dark, and may be too much for the young teen or pre-teen reader. I believe that it is also a great book for anyone who loves a good story filled with fantastical creatures. You cannot get any better than this.

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About Leslie Wright

Leslie Wright is an author and blogger in the Northwest.