Cover Image: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

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This mesmerizing novella finds nonbinary cleric Chih and their companions anxiously waiting to be saved by mammoths as they come face to face with a hungry band of tigers. To buy time, the cleric tells an intricate and transporting story of a tiger and her scholar lover--a story the tigers can’t help but listen to, and correct from a tiger's perspective along the way.

I really enjoyed this very queer folk tale, even though I haven't read the first book in the series! Nghi Vo's writing is lyrical and mysterious and transporting, and the story-within-a-story worked really well. If anything, I really just wanted more development from Cheh and the tigers. But I definitely want to go back and read the first Singing Hills Cycle book now!

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A story of ferocious love and loyalty, of the power of words and the power of perseverance. Learning to follow your heart even when your head is not in agreement.

Chih and their traveling companions are trapped in a barn by a family of tigers and our brave cleric must feed them with stories or be the food themselves.
As the night deepens Chih must unwind the truth from the stories they tell when the tigers provide a new perspective on the tale of a scholar and her tiger lover that they tell the tigers in an attempt to stay alive until the mammoth’s arrive.

I really enjoyed this novella and have developed a very deep fondness for our curious cleric and their twisting and winding journey throughout the Singing Hills Cycle so far.
When the Tiger Came Down from the Mountain is as unique and unexpected as it’s predecessor and just as engaging and intricate, nuanced with emotion and beauty and danger.

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Nghi Vo dazzles us again with the second installment in the Singing Hills cycle. This is truly a masterwork in what a novella should be and a lovably diverse and queer masterwork at that.

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After loving Empress of Salt and Fortune earlier in the year and just wanting more of the story, I was very excited when I saw the announcement for this sequel and even more happy when I got the ARC. And this one turned out to be even better than I thought.

I think I did the right thing listening to the audiobook of the first book just last week, because it refreshed my memory of this world and it made me feel connected to this story immediately. As storytelling forms the main narrative of this novella, the author uses her poetic and beautiful writing style to weave a story within a story, while also keeping up the tension taut and us readers hooked to every single word. I was lost to the mesmerizing words and didn’t even realize that the book was almost over. The book is quite fast paced, the story that Chih is narrating builds up slowly and I was quite excited to know what was gonna happen next, and all characters had very interesting personalities. The banter between them was also absolutely perfect and I had such a fun time reading the book even when it was intense.

I loved the themes that the author was trying to convey with this narrative. I have found many books in recent times deal with the concept of truth and fact, whose truth gets to be told as history and passed on across generations, and what other narratives are lost. In a similar vein, the author here tries to showcase how the same history of a scholar/Tiger couple can be told in different ways based on who is doing the narrating, and the version which gets archived for posterity depends on who controls the scholarly domain. I think this is very relevant to our current times as well and I enjoyed the way the author imparts us this message through the narration of a love story.

To conclude, this novella is storytelling at its finest, very captivating in tone, and beautiful in the imagery. I’m now more in love with this world and the author than I was before, and I hope we get more books in the Singing Hills series. And if you are someone who loves stories, you just can’t miss this masterpiece.

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I have not yet read Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune, which was published back in March 2020. So when I found out her next novella was coming out this year, I immediately snatched it up. I am happy to report that you do not need to have read the previous book. This is a standalone you can sink into.

Read the rest of the review at Lightspeed Magazine.

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I really enjoyed this novella as much as the first one. There were just so many things that I loved in this book: the atmospheric, lyrical prose, the enthralling characters, and the silent yet powerful message this novella conveyed. Indeed, When The Tiger Came Down the Mountain is another masterpiece by Nghi Vo.

The story followed Chih who was a cleric of the Singing Hills. Their job was to collect history and stories so nothing was forgotten even when the time passed. While travelling, they and their company was stopped by the three tigers who were starving. In exchange for not being eaten yet and to buy some time for their rescue, Chih told the love story of the tiger and her scholar lover to the three tigers who agreed to listen to them.

Just like in The Empress of Salt and Fortune, the narrative unraveled through storytelling. It emphasized how different versions and interpretations changed "the truth" of the stories. There was no doubt in me that Vo is a great storyteller. For such a short number of pages, she was able to create a complex and layered plot that readers like myself would devour until the very last page. She also did not forget to weave elements such as tradition and culture, queerness, and companionship that more enriched the already intricate world-building.

Overall, When The Tiger Came Down the Mountain is a lyrical prose that tells us how stories take different shapes depending on various perspectives. I highly recommend this novella.

5/5 stars!

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I received a copy of this book from Macmillan/Tor-Forge in exchange for an honest review,

I was so entranced by this world that Nghi Vgo first created in The Empress of Salt and Fortune that I knew that I had to read When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain if it was the last thing I did. Just like the first in the Singing Hills Cycle series, Nghi Vgo does not disappoint in this sequel that cleric Chih as they find that their storytelling may prove useful when they and their mammoth guide find themselves at the mercy of three tigers. Told in turns between the tigers and Chih, the story of a tiger and her scholar lover may the the key to survival this night. Truly such a mesmerizing and fantastical story that follow Chih in this mysterious world that Nghi Vgo has created. I am already waiting in high anticipation for the next book in this series.

Thank you to Macmillan Tor-Forge for the copy of the book.

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I cannot give an unbiased review of this book, but I can honestly say that every time I read something new by Nghi Vo I'm blown away by how she just keeps getting better and better! Her debut was always going to be a hard act to follow but this new standalone entry in the series is up to her already high standard.

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Another engaging and creative work from Nghi Vo! I think I personally liked the first novella better, but both are strong folkloric glimpses into a rich, somewhat-magical world. Though it is a quick read, it requires concentration to keep all the threads of the story together, and to follow along as our protagonist Chih engages in a duel of tales with three ravenous tigresses.

Anyone interested in speculative fiction should check out this series (they are each standalone, though reading them in order gives a better picture of the central POV character and the world as a whole).

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange and honest review.

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Enchanting sophomore novella by Nghi Vo! A complex tale within a tale that seamlessly celebrates the tradition of oral history; elements of fantasy, myth, and folklore. The author accomplishes superb world building. Don't let the brevity of the tale fool you, it packs a punch and engages the reader from page one. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to review this ARC; all opinions are my own and unbiased.

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When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is a successful, brilliant companion to The Empress of Salt and Fortune. We once again follow monk Chih who is traveling up a mountain and is set upon by tigers. In order to delay being eating, Chih offers up a folktale of a tiger and and a scholar who fell in love. Vo expertly plays with truth in story, and how different perspectives of the same event can lead to wildly different interpretations. Readers who love fairytales and folktales will deeply appreciate what Vo has achieved with this story.

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This is an impressive sophomore novella that breathes new life into campire stories and oral history. In a mystical world of tiger shifters and deadly mammoths, one cleric must bargin for their life with a folk tale. WHEN THE TIGER CAME DOWN THE MOUNTAIN is a story of cultural exchange and a question of who pens history. It's powerful, compelling, and downright enchanting.

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I'm sorry to say, but this was a bit of a letdown compared to The Empress of Salt and Fortune. The world-building I so loved in that book was here, but the story being told was nowhere near as compelling. I find it very difficult to connect with a love story, personally, if the characters involved are little more than archetypes (even if there's a dueling narrative thing going on like there was here) and the way things were tied up in the end was definitely disappointing (again, especially compared to the first book in this series). It also didn't help that there were so many asides and subplots that I thought more worthy of interest than Scholar Dieu and her tiger. It's still interesting to be sure (and, again, the world-building is amazing enough that I'd return to this series) but I can't recommend it as strongly as Vo's other book.

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Collector of stories and historian Chih returns in this second Singing Hills novella. This time, Chih is in the far north to collect stories from the mammoth riders. When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, by Nghi Vo, recounts what happened one night when Chih hitched a ride only to find themselves in mortal peril at the hands (paws?) of a trio of shapeshifting tigers.

Chih’s job is to roam the former Anh empire to learn everything they can about the culture, customs, histories, and—best of all—the stories of everyone they can find. (Chih is non-binary.) In their first outing, in The Empress of Salt and Fortune, they got the real story about what happened to an Empress who overturned the empire that disrespected and discarded her. Chih didn’t expect that this outing in the frozen north would also become an opportunity to set the record straight; they were just getting a ride to their next destination. When three massive tigers appear, just about to kill and eat another mammoth rider, Chih’s guide springs into action…which lands them in a situation where Chih has to spin stories long enough for them to be rescued.

The largest tiger introduces herself as the queen of the entire territory and announces that she and her sisters will eat everyone. (The mammoth can go free.) Some quick talking leads to Chih telling their version of the story of the Scholar Dieu and the tiger Ho Thi Thiao. This version almost immediately displeases the tigers. Chih is not telling it right! Chih can only apologize; this is the version they were told. The tigers then take turns with Chih, telling their versions of the story. This is what made me When the Tiger Comes Down the Mountain even more than I did The Empress of Salt and Fortune. It’s probably the English major in me, but I loved how the stories had similar beats that—depending on which version you got—had completely different significance.

I look forward to more rich stories from the Singing Hills.

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I've now read two novellas by Nghi Vo, and they're both like tiny, perfect, very different jewels. Like The Empress of Salt and Fortune, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is also a story in a story. A storyteller is ambushed by shape changing tigers. To avoid being eaten, they tell a story. The tigers have their own version of the same story though…

This is a beautiful and nuanced exploration of the concept of story and truth. I opened it without any preconceived notions about what I was going to get other than the pleasure I had for The Empress of Salt and Fortune, so I don't want to share too many details here and inadvertently spoil it for anyone else. Highly recommended.

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I really enjoyed The Empress of Salt and Fortune, so I was incredibly excited to see the next story that Chih chases. And man, [Phoebe Waller-Bridge voice] this is a love story. When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain reveals the truth of a potent love story that’s become lost to time.

Again, Chih is travelling, this time in search of more perspectives on the story of the scholar Trung Dieu and the tiger Ho Thi Thao. While they and their guide are making their way through the mountains, they are suddenly held hostage by a group of tiger sisters. To appease them, Chih tells them the story as they have written down, but the tigers provide more details that were lost to time and differences between cultures.

Throughout this story, we learn how a tale can become polished and watered down over time. It was very interesting to see how certain details have been skewed simply because people forgot them or didn’t understand the true facts. This was a bit different from the first book, as this time Chih is constantly interrupted by one of the tigers who are irritated by the inaccuracies of the story.

I loved the writing, of course. The switching between the story of the two lovers and the present with Chih, their guide, and the tigers was done so well. Vo packs so much into a short story, and you particularly feel the potency of Dieu and Ho Thi Thao’s love throughout the words. We also get a lot more of the worldbuilding as Chih travels through a new landscape.

After reading this second novella of Vo’s, I’m even more excited for her full length novels! Hopefully we also get some more stories in this series as well because I’d love to explore more stories from Chih’s perspective. When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain told the tale of two lovers, one a scholar and one a tiger, and how their story has withstood the test of time. I definitely recommend this if you want to read a lush f/f love story!

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Nghi Vo's When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain follows The Empress of Salt and Fortune as the second in her excellent Singing Hills Cycle, set in the empire of Ahn.

As before, Cleric Chih tells the story. Indeed, they tell many stories in a context reminiscent of One Thousand and One Nights. - to delay being eaten by shapeshifting lions.

This Singing Hills Cycle is extraordinary fantasy and I very much look forward to what comes next for Chih in their travels through Ahn.

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Review currently posted to Goodreads
Review will be posted to on December 1st
Review will be posted on Instagram around the same date, review to be updated with link at that time.


When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo is the second novella is the second book in The Singing Hills Cycle. Thank you to Tor and Netgalley for the e-arc! When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain releases on December 8th!

I loved The Empress of Salt and Fortune and felt myself completely drawn into that world and its story. So of course, I was elated to see the upcoming release of another book set within the same world with the same main character. The Tiger Came Down the Mountain did not disappoint! While taking place in the same world and starring the same main character, The Empress of Salt and Fortune, and When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain are each a fully standalone story that can be read separately from each other.

In the novella, the cleric Chih ends up in a more dangerous situation than before. In their effort to find out more about the Northern villages and the Mammoth Army, the cleric finds themself stranded with a mammoth soldier and an injured man at the mercy of tigers and the bitter cold of winter.

But, a story might be just the thing to save them and hold the tigers at bay. It had better be a good one, as help is hours away.

Like last time, this is a story within a story. Vo once again writes two lush and intertwining stories that fit together perfectly. This time, the stakes are higher, because the tigers know a different version of the story, the correct version. If Chih gets it wrong too many times they’ll make a tasty snack.

I loved both stories. It was great to see Chih have a larger part in the story than in The Empress of Salt and Fortune where they were more of a vessel than a character. You can their skill at weaving a story and holding an audience. A skill that is very useful in this circumstance. The story of the scholar and the tiger queen was intricate and I loved seeing multiple sides of the story. It was an interesting look into how we record history.

I would highly recommend When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain. It is a lushly written novella which packs a punch despite how short it is.

Rep: non-binary MC, sapphic romance

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I love this series so freaking much.

I read the Empress of Salt and Fortune a few months ago, completely on a whim, and immediately fell head-over-heels in love with its beautiful world and characters. I was beyond excited to discover that Nghi Vo had written a sequel… and wow it did not disappoint!

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain once again follows the Cleric, Chih on their journey to collect the stories of her fantastical world of Ahn.

Chih travels with the brave and capable Si-yu and her mammoth companion, Piluk through the wintery mountainous reaches of the Northern regions. But when they are chased and cornered by three tigers, Chih must use their ingenuity to survive the night - and, if they’re lucky, learn the truth about an old, little known tale as well.

What I love most about this story, aside from the amazing characters and magical elements, is the LGBTQ+ representation. Chih is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns… and it’s so natural and easy and not a whole big thing. It’s just who Chih is. Furthermore, the tigers and their story also feature a wonderful sapphic romance.

I also really love how women-centric the fantastical world of Anh is. In The Empress of Salt and Fortune, we had the wonderful feminist story of the Empress herself. In this second story, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, we have so many subtle representation - ancient women warriors and scholars - as well as Si-yu and the tigers themselves. The tiger sisters are wonderfully complex femme-identifying villains and I loved that Vo give us such well-developed, multi-dimensional women in an antagonist role.

I love Vo’s fantasy world and incredible storytelling talents so much. I’m still in awe of Vo’s ability to create such robust, complex stories with so much depth in so few pages.

A thousand thank-yous to Tor Dot Com for sharing this e-arc with me. I could seriously read a million of these novellas and I already can’t wait for the next one.
PS: The cover art is absolutely to die for too.

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I wasn't sure it was possible to love a book about Chih even more, but then Vo added woolly mammoths! We love scenes with gigantic, sweet, and soft mammoths! Add the fact that Chih frame narrative involves talking to a series of shapeshifter tigers. When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is a lyrical and gorgeous story about truth. Storytelling is the central focus of this novella. Not only in the story Chih must tell, but also the ways stories have two sides. What is the role of the bard, the collector of stories, in questions of the truth?

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