Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall

Monday, April 18, 2016

Twelve-year-old Iris has been sent to Spain on a mission: to make sure her elderly and unusual aunt, Ursula, leaves her fortune–and her sprawling estate–to Iris’s scheming parents.

But from the moment Iris arrives at Bosque de Nubes, she realises something isn’t quite right. There is an odd feeling around the house, where time moves slowly and Iris’s eyes play tricks on her. While outside, in the wild and untamed forest, a mysterious animal moves through the shadows.

Just what is Aunt Ursula hiding?

But when Iris discovers a painting named Iris and the Tiger, she sets out to uncover the animal’s real identity–putting her life in terrible danger.

This book! This lovely, surreal, bizarre gorgeous book! Look at that cover! Read that description! Isn't it just the most splendid thing you've ever seen/read?

If you haven't read Leanne Hall's YA novels This Is Shyness and Queen of the Night, I do believe you are severely missing out and you must address this terrible oversight immediately.

If, however, This Is Shyness and Queen of the Night are a little too Young Adult-y for you, and you want a novel that is Younger Young Adult-y but still has all of the magnificent, surreal goodness of a Leanne Hall novel, you're in luck: Iris and the Tiger is the novel for you. Even though Iris is twelve, and this novel is for readers around her age, older readers will not be disappointed - Iris and the Tiger has adventure and mystery and absurdity and subtlety and will fill you with wonderment, I guarantee it.

If you have read and enjoyed Leanne Hall's other novels, Iris and the Tiger is still the novel for you. If you like stories about girls going on slightly-bizarre adventures, this is the novel for you. If you know a preteen human who likes reading fiction that's a little bit magical, you should give this novel to them. This novel. It is the good weird.

There are so many great things about it: the wonderfully endearing Iris herself, her terrifically bizarre Aunt Ursula, her slightly villainous property-developer parents, the enchanting setting of Bosque de Nubes... and some of the things I loved best are the things I cannot reveal in this review because this novel is so much better when those things are a surprise.

Iris and the Tiger even explores themes like male artists taking credit for female artists' work in a manner that seems totally organic to the story. There's a compelling mystery at the centre of it, and many, many wondrous, imaginative details. I would love to live in a Leanne Hall novel, despite the obvious dangers (there are some terrifying... creatures, I guess?). I'll accept the risks. It's just that magical.

I hope this review gives you a sense of whether it is a novel for you. I was absorbed in the story in a way which is quite rare for me as an older reader. It's fresh and it's gorgeous and it's just A+ younger YA. It's a bit different, but I think there are lots of young (and not-so-young) readers out there who will appreciate it's uniqueness, and the fabulous protagonist, Iris.

Iris and the Tiger on the publisher's website.
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