Shadow Cat is set in the tropical rain forests of Malaysia. Things deep in the rain forest are dangerous, and there are more things happening there than most humans are aware of.
Eric is a CEO and head of his grandfathers pharmaceutical company, which is failing. Doing everything he can to keep it ahead of the game, he despairs of ruining it. When the chance comes for him to send a research team to Malaysia to find the next big cure, he throws his support behind it. However all is not well, and the researchers end up losing their permits and forcing his friend Bryan to travel to the country to save the project. Eric goes to "get a vacation" when his rivals daughter (and his sort of girlfriend) presses him about wanting to get married to achieve her own goals.
Berani is a whertiger (or orang belang) and has been in her pack her whole life, trained in medicine and healing by her grandmother, there is little she wouldn't do to protect their way of life, and that includes ruining the research expedition. For some strange reason there is one human there who she can't stop looking at, she feels drawn to him. The problem is he frightens her, and after he gets too close she swats his hand away resulting in a horrible injury.
After a really bad stitching job on his hand Eric falls very ill and draws the attention of a Penaggalan. What is that you ask?
"A penanggalan - the jinjangs minion - the cause of so many illnesses and deaths amongst her people. From the neck, a stringy mass of veins drooped and suspended disemboweled organs. The lungs deflated, and a vapor drifted from it's nose, saturating the air with a vinegary stench. A long proboscis-like tongue slithered from its mouth and undulated like a snake as it lapped the back of the human's head with a revolting slurp."
Ugh. Gross. This Pennangalan has been tormenting the area and just barely Berani manages to save him, but he becomes very ill from infection and she is forced to care for him. This action goes against her very being, how can she, a powerful tiger, care for a human who is so weak he can't hunt for himself much less protect himself? Her emotional attachment however leads her down a path she is not sure she wants to take. One thing that really got me were her views on humans, and echoed with my own personal observances:
"Perhaps he'd come to terms that his people left him to die. Their actions made no sense. How could the cruelty of a people be so great they would sacrifice their own? The humans forever amazed her with their despicable acts."
The time with them reminded me of Dances with Wolves or The Last Samurai, they could not speak each others language, but they both were willing to learn, without all the subtitles at the bottom of the screen. I even picked up some too! That aside they find a way to connect and boy do they ever connect! Their passion lept off the pages, and drowned out the world as I was captivated by their story. Eric is forced to open his eyes to things that have been in front of him all along, things from the past and even has to raise his eyes to the future - where he must discover if he has it in him to lead a pack, run a major company and keep the love of a wild tigress who holds his soul.
Overall I would say this book is worth the read, and after I was finished I had to look up the Pennangalan to find out more about it, and it was really neat to discover they are Malaysia's vampire myth. In a chat with Maryse about it we have decided someone needs to make a horror movie based on that thing. In the mean time I will now give all expectant mothers I know pineapple seeds (bulbs?). Just in case.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)