This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review: How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Really Trying by Alma Anonas-CarpioHow to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Really Trying by Alma Anonas-Carpio
Published by indie author on November 26, 2015
Genres: Erotic Romance, Erotica, Mythic Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy
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five-stars
What happens when a Babaylan finds herself a Tikbalang to tame?

Tala Bienvenido can’t help but be curious about a strange book in the attic of her clan’s ancestral home, and she finds herself thrust into a world filled with ancient lore when she takes the old tome.

Buhawi Batumbakal was caught and he knew it. Yet all that was clear to him was that he needed to find a way to make that Babaylan his forever, elemental disturbances and threats to his life (and hers) notwithstanding.

In Philippine lore and mythology, the Tikbalang is a monster hybrid of horse and warrior that is feared throughout the archipelago.

Just as fearsome are the priestesses of the pre-colonial animist religion: The Babaylanes. A Babaylan, it is said, can heal the sick and injured, commune with the gods and goddesses, speak and do battle with otherworldly creatures like the Tikbalang and, yes, strike her foes down with lightning called from the heavens.

So, what does happen when this Babaylan meets that Tikbalang?

* This work of fiction contains graphic depictions of sexual acts that some readers may deem offensive. It is not for the faint of heart or for anyone younger than 18.

Long have I lamented the absence of good romantica in the Philippines; while I’ve been seeing more steamy reads in English in the past year or two, these mostly merit threes or at most barely fours on the steam factor, and the general trend still seems to favor twos and ones (and nones!). Enter Alma Anonas-Carpio and her book How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Really Trying. I saw a post about the book on my Facebook feed, courtesy of author Marian Tee, and bought it because I liked the title and the idea of it. Because of past experience with local reads, my hopes weren’t raised too high in terms of the steam factor, but darned if this didn’t bring on the heat from my toes upward, until it blew the top of my head off!

I’m going to be honest. This book is why you shouldn’t judge books by their covers, because in my opinion, the cover really puts the “meh” in “mediocre,” at best. At worst, it looks like a manual on dealing with gender-bias in the workplace. In fact, I’d go as far as to change my “meh” to “bleh.” I seriously never would’ve come across this book and thought, “There’s something that looks like there’s dynamite in every chapter.” But trust me, there is.

Tala is a babaylan, pretty much a Filipino witchy woman (although elevated to goddess status in this book), but in order to come into her full power and claim her heritage, she must complete the ritual of taming a tikbalang, a wild horse spirit with the head of a horse and the body of a man (think horsey Minotaur or reverse centaur). But the tikbalang in question, Buhawi, prince of his people, has no intention of being tamed and thinks to turn the tables on the babaylan who stirs his loins by taming her instead.

The process of taming requires exactly as much sexual interplay between the sensuous, earthy babaylan and the bad boy tikbalang as you might expect, and then some. And each scene is laid bare for readers to enjoy, ideally in private, and no judgments if you read this book one-handed! This book has lots of dirty talk, and lots and lots of sex and foreplay.

But before you dismiss this as mindless porn, note that there actually is a plot here, and the characters are more than just stooges with enough chemistry to blow up a city block. Their goals, beliefs, and personalities are well fleshed out, and their journey to love and magical victory over evil is equally well charted. Plain and simple, I think I would have enjoyed this book had there been no sex at all. But with the sex? The author might as well have sprayed half the pages with napalm.

So if you’re a fan of steamy reads and Philippine folklore (or if you’re even just curious about it), please, please pick up a copy of and read Alma Anonas-Carpio’s How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Really Trying! You’ll be an instant fan, like I was.

And if the author happens to read this at all, I’ll do an Oliver Twist and beg, “Please, ma’am, I want some more!”

 

Feel Factor Rating:

steam-factor5

swoon-factor3

intrigue-factor2

fan-factor2

adrenaline-factor1

 

About Alma Anonas-Carpio

Alma Anonas-Carpio is a journalist--and she has been one for two decades--who pens poetry and fanciful fiction between deadlines. She is also the literary editor of the last news weekly magazine standing in the Philippines.

Her feet got set on the writer's path by her mother, who told her that if she didn't like the real world, she could create a world she likes better in her head. So she did--complete with characters, worlds and plots-- and she wrote them down. When those worlds got too big to stay in her head, she began putting them down on paper, complete with population, personalities, vital statistics and back-stories.

Alma's foray into writing erotica was spurred by a need to write something that was as different from news reportage and analysis and poetry as it is possible to get. Challenges, after all, are a very good thing--when they don't kill you, that is.

Oh, and her first book was a cookbook. Because, food.

* Photo and description from Amazon