REVIEW: How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Even Trying by Alma Anonas-Carpio

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? 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.

Warnings: Dubcon, mentions of rape, pregnancy

Category: M/F

How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Even Trying is a supernatural erotic romance novel about a young priestess coming into her power and binding a mythological male beast to herself. It involves some amounts of political movements amongst gods and supernatural worlds, thrones and those vying for them, but more than that it’s a whole lot of sex. It’s a cheesy romance romp, about the back and forth between the two lead characters as they compete against each other for who will end up on top (figuratively as well as literally)

WRITING
This book is written with a lot of Filipinos and Spanish words peppered throughout it, which can be distracting if you don’t know the terms being used at all, but for the most part you can glean their meanings from context clues, or look them up online if you can’t. The writing is fairly simplistic and humorous in nature, with a lot of modern turns of phrase, and while the dialogue can be a little stiff, it’s still quite enjoyable. It follows the story of Tala as she starts reading a book on magic left for her by her ancestor, and finds herself with a very beefy, and very horny, supernatural man pursuing her. In order to avoid being eaten by the beast, she must continue to learn how to complete the ritual binding, as well as secure peace in the realms by making sure this mythological prince does not loose the throne to his jealous brother. While the background plot isn’t especially well fleshed out, it’s not really the point of the book, which is much more about their gradually developing relationship as they each struggle to maintain dominance when they come together, as well as Tala’s coming into her own as a witch.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
Despite their relationship being at the forefront of the driving action of the plot, I never really felt a lot of connection to either Buhawi or Tala. Tala is an average person in a modern world, working her customer service job and living her life. Meanwhile Buhawi is a Tikbalang Prince, and wasn’t planning on settling down, until he starts lusting after Tala. Their chemistry is mostly just primal and physical attraction based which to be fair isn’t something that I connect with especially well, since my own experiences of sexual attraction are a lot more emotionally based. There are a lot of passages where one or the other of them expound on how very sexy their partner’s bodies are and why various parts of them drive them wild, but there’s really not a lot of them getting to know each other. The few scenes we get where they do actually sit down and have a conversation are undercut with Buhawi zoning out and tuning out everything Tala is saying because he can’t take his mind off her tits, which personally would not be my favourite trait in a romantic partner. I get that there’s a fantasy there of a lover that is SO incredibly attracted to you that they just can’t help themselves from lusting after you constantly, but I don’t actually find it an appealing thought that they can’t even be bothered to listen to me when I’m talking- and unfortunately from a reader’s perspective it means that the chemistry between them is never developed beyond fucking.

WORLDBUILDING

This books coolest feature, in my own opinion, is the exploration of Filipino lore. The Tikbalang is not a mythological being that I had heard of before, so I had a lot of fun reading this representation of those concepts. I really loved all of the passages from the Bestiario, written by Tala’s ancestor to guide her through the magic and rituals that would be required for her growth and journey. If you like explorations of traditional magics and mythos, this is really fun. The other worlds as well as the forces that exist within them are really well explored and I very much enjoyed watching Tala not only grow in her powers and self agency, but in gradually discovering the supernatural worlds, creatures and deities.

STEAMINESS
This book, despite the concepts of power struggle and summon binding having some inherently kinky aspects to them, ended up being a bit too vanilla for me to really find sexy. As I mentioned, it’s sexual and romantic chemistry is wholly to do with physical attractions, visual turn ons, and the appeal of very large penises and breasts. It’s all very passionate and written quite well so I’m sure that many people will find this a very sexy book full of scorching hot sex scenes, but I found them all quite basic. There’s also a strange veering away from the sinister midway into their cat-and-mouse seduction game; Tala has been warned by the Bestiario that if she fails at taming the Tikbalang, it is a creature that may very well rape, kill, and eat her. This sense of danger isn’t dispelled either by Buhawi’s POV scenes early on as he stalks her and indeed contemplates eating her, but when the topic is brought up it turns out to be some kind of misunderstanding and he is suddenly horrified that she had thought him killing her had been a possibility. This seems strange to me and also kind of killed the mood on my end because the sense of danger if she failed to tame him had been a large part of the appeal, to myself at least.

This is a nice book, and is sure to please lovers of supernatural romance that are tired of the same old vampires, werewolves and demigods as love interests. The exploration of Tikbalang lore was really fun and made for a nice change of genre pace, but it’s ultimately too vanilla to really get me going. That doesn’t mean that others won’t find it enjoyable, and if you like the fantasy of an impassioned man driven half mad with insatiable lust for you with a huge horse sized (if not shaped) cock, this is a pretty fun little romp.

Have you read How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Even Trying? Let me know what you thought by leaving me a comment!

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Even Trying by Alma Anonas-Carpio

  1. Hi Elizabeth!

    Thank you for this review of my book. I loved your honesty and for the rating. This is my first novel and your feedback is gold for first-time novel writers like me.

    There is a sequel to this, which I have already finished, and I am on the third book in the series. I hope to share these with you when I do put them out and, if you’d review those in the future, I would truly appreciate that.

    Hugs,
    Alma

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s