I could read a hundred of these gorgeous little novellas.
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is a loose successor to Nghi Vo’s lovely novella Empress of Salt and Fortune. It picks up with our protagonist Chih continuing their travels as a monk of the Singing Hills, collecting and recording stories. The themes of this book, similar to the last one, center around the nature of storytelling. However, in When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain the central idea relates to cross-cultural narratives, and the way archetypal stories grow and change depending on their teller. It also touched on the flexible nature of truth, all the while highlighting a beautiful love story between two complicated women.
I missed the sardonic presence of Chih’s erstwhile avian companion Almost Brilliant, but enjoyed the new characters of the Si-yu, her mammoth Piluk, and the brutal, enchanting tiger sisters. The writing once again highlighted Vo’s talent for exquisite prose, and I loved the inclusion of the “story within a story” aspect. I also liked how the supernatural came out play in fuller force in this novel: between shapeshifting tigers and ravenous ghouls there was plenty of magic filling in the edges of the narrative.
I was so thrilled to hear that Empress of Salt and Fortune got a sequel, and I will read as many Singing Hills books as Nghi Vo creates! You can purchase the novella here.