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.
The novellas of The Singing Hills Cycle are linked by the cleric Chih, but may be read in any order, with each story serving as an entrypoint.
Amazon Link: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle #2)
Author: Nghi Vo
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars
I haven’t read the first part of the series, but I don’t think it was required to follow the plot of this story. The main character is a cleric whose job is to seek out and record stories. There is a rich world, but there is a narrow focus for this shorter story, and all the relevant details are included. There is a wonderful Asian cultural influence on the story from the Vietnamese-American author.
The nonbinary cleric, Chih, is on a journey with a mammoth-riding scout when they are attacked by tigers. They tell a story about another tiger to stall for time until rescue arrives.
The story Chih tells is also fascinating, about a tiger (who can take human form) and her marriage to a human woman, a scholar. They overcome several obstacles to their relationship and live queerily ever after. It’s a sweet folktale-style telling, full of cultural details, and the notes from the other tigers who another perspective of the same events.
It was a quick, fun read and I look forward to more from this author!
LGBTQ+ representation: nonbinary protagonist, a queer couple in the story, and the mammoth scout is also a lesbian. The author is also queer.
Here’s the book in my reading journal: