All right, obviously I’ve fallen way behind on my booklogging, but here’s my chance to begin catching up. Because I read the first three novellas of Nghi Vo’s Singing Hill Cycle back in January and never got around to writing them up, but now I’ve just finished the fourth one, so… hey, this is a current entry now.
So the framing device of the series is that a monk and a bird are wandering around collecting stories. In The Empress of Salt and Fortune, they arrive at a forgotten palace inhabited by an old woman, and hear her stories and learn about the palace and her life; in When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, they’re in the frozen north, and when misfortune strikes, the monk has to tell a tale to an audience that has their own version of it, and frequently “corrects” the story; in Into the Riverlands, the monk is looking for tales of martial art master brigands, and ends up getting more embroiled than expected; and in Mammoths at the Gate, the monk comes back home to their monastery and learns stories about someone who they only really knew from a child’s perspective.
They’re novellas, so telling a short, contained story, but they’re excellent: The stories are interesting, the structure of the telling enriches the story, and in general they’re surprising delights. Highly recommended.