Review: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

Title: When The Tiger Came Down the Mountain
Author: Nghi Vo
Rating: 5/5 stars
The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.
Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune.

I’d heard a lot of good things about Nghi Vo’s novella The Empress of Salt and Fortune and bought the ebook, but I kept putting it off because I always had library books or review copies to read instead. Obviously when I saw Tiger on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read both novellas. Although they both feature the same main character, cleric Chih, I would say you can easily enjoy Tiger without reading the previous novella.

It took me a few chapters to recognize this in Salt and Fortune, but Chih is a non-binary character who uses they/them pronouns. I loved how this is unremarked upon in Vo’s Asian-inspired fantasy world, and how inclusive the fantasy world is of queer and gender non-conforming characters. Both novellas tell very different stories, but I loved the world that they build together.

The beauty of this story is understanding the same events from multiple perspectives, and how different groups will retell the same story in different ways. It is a love letter to story telling, and ranges from dark to humorous to endearing. I thoroughly enjoyed how the Tigers in this story were both completely terrifying and disarming.

I highly recommend this novella and its predecessor, especially if you are a fan of folktales!

A free review copy of this novella was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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