Book Review: The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons

The Tiger Catcher…

About the Book:

Can true love ever die? The first novel in a beautiful, heartbreaking new trilogy from Paullina Simons, the international bestselling author of Tully and The Bronze Horseman.

Julian lives a charmed life in Los Angeles. Surrounded by friends, he is young, handsome, and runs a successful business. Everything changes after he has a fateful encounter with a mysterious young woman named Josephine.

Julian’s world is turned upside down by a love affair that takes him-and everyone else in his life-by storm. For the two new lovers, the City of Angels is transformed into a magical playground.

But Josephine is not what she seems and carries secrets that threaten to tear them apart-seemingly forever.

A broken man, his faith in tatters, Julian meets a mysterious stranger who tells him how to find Josephine again if he is willing to give up everything and take a death-defying trip from which no one has ever returned.

So begins Julian and Josephine’s extraordinary adventure of love, loss, and the mystical forces that bind people across time and space. It is a journey that propels Julian toward an impossible choice which will lead him to love fulfilled … or to oblivion.

The Tiger Catcher takes readers from the depths of despair to the dizzying heights of joy in the first novel of an unforgettable trilogy of love lost and found. For all fans of Outlander, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Jojo Moyes.


My Thoughts:

Paullina Simons is an author whose novels I always enjoy. Each new story from her is unique; she doesn’t seem to write to a formula, which is really rare nowadays, particularly with those big named authors who are backed by big publishers. There’s a certain type of safety in sticking to what works, I suppose, but I crave unique books, stories that are edgy, funny as well as heartbreaking, and in this, Paullina Simons never fails to deliver. In her latest release, The Tiger Catcher, she brings to us the first in a new trilogy, and this is as different as it comes. Of course, I loved every bit of it. I thought I’d include her author’s note at the beginning of this review, to set the scene, so to speak.

‘I have taken a few liberties with mathematics, longitude, geography, various disciplines of science, the calendar, and the English language. There will also undoubtedly be some unintended tiny errors of fact. For all this, I beg your indulgence. As for the tale’s more fantastical assertions, I stand behind them. First, tiger catching is a real thing. Second, shame toast is crazy delicious. And, when properly applied, love can accomplish remarkable feats.’ – Author’s Note.

I am totally on board with all of that! Some people may find this novel a bit too different, particularly those who are dedicated The Bronze Horseman fans. The Tiger Catcher is nothing like that one. It’s fiction in its purest form, not based on a real event, not set against the backdrop of something that actually happened, nor is it inspired by the life of a remarkable person. I enjoy all of those things, but there’s something to be said for a novel that is pure fiction – a totally out there adventure with a speculative edge that challenges the reader to just let go and suspend belief for the sake of a good read. And that’s exactly what this is. Now, before I go any further, I need to tell you something very important, because I know that for many of you, this can be make or break: this novel has time travel in it. I’m not spoiling anything by telling you this, but I will be if I tell you more, so my lips are now sealed on that topic. Except to say that I LOVE time travel. It’s my favourite sort of science fiction, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to label The Tiger Catcher as science fiction, it certainly has elements of it.

“Listen to me very carefully,” Devi said. “Take your assumptions about what you know and throw them all out the window. All of them. You need to learn a new language. The language of the meridian, of universal time, of hope, and of faith. That’s your missing first principle right there.” Devi drew his finger in a straight line along the counter. “One of the many fallacies in your thinking comes from drawing time with a ruler on a flat surface. That’s not what time is. That’s not what the meridian is.” Devi formed his hands into a ball. “In the space-time beyond this earth, the meridian is not a line but a celestial sphere. What’s another name for celestial? Heavenly. Spiritual. Otherworldly. Godly.”
“Or planetary.” Trying to be scientific about it.
“Yes,” Devi said. “Pertaining to planets. By definition, outside our known world. To make sense of the physical contradiction that is time, certainly to alter it requires an observer and a mover, like an axle in a wheel. It requires a soul. It requires you.”

The heart of The Tiger Catcher beats with a love story, but it’s by no means a romance. What often accompanies great love? Pain. Epic, splintering, grounding pain. And the pain takes just as much of a centre stage as the love in this novel. Which is another reason why I enjoyed it so much. No, I’m not addicted to pain and suffering; it’s just that I’m a sucker for a grand love story. And all the great ones have pain, at some point, and in spades. If it’s worth having, it’s worth bleeding over. In Julian, Paullina Simons has created a man that every woman will want to hug and comfort. You’ll all be secretly wishing for your own Julian, a man who crosses the dimensions of time on the off chance he’ll breathe the same air as his beloved Josephine again. And he’s perfectly imperfect. I don’t know how she did it, but she nailed it with Julian. There’s also a fantastic supporting cast propelling this story along. And it’s so funny, more sharp wit than slapstick comedic, but it all works so well. This is vivid, sensory writing, an immersive experience for the reader and a bit of a masterclass for the writer.

‘Shock grinds down human beings. They can’t act, react, can’t speak, can’t feel. Sometimes they hear agony so unbearable that their minds block it out. You hear that sound, you know something terrible has happened. Someone has suffered an unsurvivable wound. Screaming like an uncontained blaze that obliterates everything. Sometimes you must close your ears and eyes to it, you must close your heart to it if you are to survive yourself.’

The best part about this novel? The end is temporary because book two, A Beggar’s Kingdom, comes out towards the end of July, and the third book, Inexpressible Island, will be released some time in November. How exciting – and refreshing! – to not have to wait a year in between each instalment. I highly recommend The Tiger Catcher and have already begun my count down for book two.

☕☕☕☕☕


Thanks is extended to HarperCollins Publishers Australia via NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Tiger Catcher for review.


About the Author:

Paullina Simons was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she emigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.


The Tiger Catcher
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia
Released on 15 April 2019

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