Soon the two men begin a budding romance but with Declan shut away in the metaphorical locker room, there is plenty of strain on their relationship. Factor in jealous friends, awkward family dynamics, the press, prejudices, miscommunication, stubbornness and Simon's own insecurities, they have a lot of hurdles to overcome. Can their relationship survive?
I started reading a sample of Tigers and Devils late in the evening. I was soon hooked, with the full novel at hand, reading into the small hours of the morning.
The novel is narrated in first person by Simon Murray and is set primarily in Melbourne. His voice was the driving force for the story's compulsion. With a lesser protagonist and weaker character dynamics, the novel would have fallen flat. Luckily, these things were the strongest elements in Tigers and Devils.
Simon is a relatable character with a wonderful wit and sarcastic streak. He is also stubborn and insecure. Not to the point or irritability but where it seems he could almost step out of the pages as a realistically flawed individual.
The relationship between Simon and Declan is brilliantlywritten and the core of the storyline. Tigers and Devils could have easily focused primarily on their coming together, falling in love, sex life - which is frequently alluded to but never described - or Declan's coming out process, but instead it is far more genuine and doesn't feel overly dramatic or forced. Simon and Declan aren't falling in love on page three and instead the portrayal of their relationship seems organic.
The strongest character dynamic next to Simon and Declan is that of Simon and his friends, married couple Roger and Fran. Through the ribbing and fauz pas, fall outs and unanimity, their relationship was real and inviting as well as interesting.
I'm not much of a sports person and I know nothing about Aussie rules footy. It seems to be somewhat more akin to rugby than American football as I had initially presumed. Yes, I looked up the rules on YouTube so that I knew what to envision. It seems to make enough sense that I can understand there being a sensical interest in it. Not to point any fingers...cricket, netball, American handegg.
I'm not sure foreign readers would be thrown off by any Aussie slang or references but it seemed pretty straight forward to me. Of course, that might be because I know what things like "arvo" and "Supré" are but I have faith in the intuition and intellect of people who read books set beyond their own backyard.
I finished Tigers and Devils in under a day and would recommend it to someone looking for a book with a realistic focus on a relationship and excellent character dynamics. I fully intend to read the sequel, Tigerland.
In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Dreamspinner Press and is used solely as an aide to the review.