When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo (The Singing Hills Cycle, #2)

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

TITLE: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain
PUBLISHER: Tordotcom
YEAR: 2020
LENGTH: 128 pages
GENRE: Fantasy

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Secondary Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Main Character(s).

This is great. Clih was the only returning character, and they had a more active role this time, both telling and receiving the story in a high-stakes cultural exchange/hostage scenario as they and they companions try to please three tigers until help can arrive. 

The tigers’ version of events was interjected at moments where it complemented (or occasionally contradicted) the version Clih knew. These moments are well-chosen, and serve to tell much about the tigers conveying them. The actual story is exciting, romantic, and poignant by turns, the pacing works well (even when interrupted by the tigers).

It as much to say about stories, who tells them, and whether telling them imperfectly is a price worth paying to preserve them. Clih begins with a story recorded, but recorded imperfectly, set against the tigers’ corrections and their demand for a perfectly told tale that will be Clih’s last. 

This is technically a sequel but can function as a stand-alone book. The main difference for anyone who reads them in order is that they'd already be familiar with the main character and their vocation, but these details are briefly conveyed early on without needing to reference any other text.

CW for blood, violence (graphic), self harm, animal death, parental death, death.

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