Book Reviews

Review: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

I adored Empress of Salt and Fortune. So when I saw there was a sequel, I knew I had to track it down! Bards are some of my favorite characters and nonbinary characters even better! This frame narrative looks at the subjectivity of truth and the importance of stories. Keep reading this book review to see what I loved about When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain.


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

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?

We know with history there’s always the story of the victor. But in matters of the heart, where does the truth lie between betrayal? What about questions of traditions and love? When the world lies in ruins, and our bones beneath earth, what will the stories say about us? When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain asks not only about the truth in stories, but also whose responsibility is it to question, and collect.

Find When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Who is your favorite bard?

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