The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Release Date: March 24, 2020
When a young royal is sent South to marry a powerful Emperor, she’s very alone. As her favor with him diminishes, she’s cast away—alone and forgotten, with only her servants on her side. But as her anger grows, so too does her resolve. This stunning novella follows her rise to power, as told through her handmaiden, and casts a shadow on monarchy, patriarchy, and illuminates the power of an angry woman.
** Thanks to netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing me with an eARC of this book**
This novella was absolutely stunning. Literally, I can’t stop screaming about it. Between the absolutely gorgeous prose, and the way that each scene was set in such a lyrical way, and the unforgettable characters, I can’t think of a single thing that didn’t work.
I loved the way that the story was told, truly. That it was told through the handmaiden's POV and then digested by Chih’s perspective (A non-binary cleric who legit had me screaming!), honestly I think made me a little more thoughtful about the story. And I really really do love the different perspective it gives. I don’t think it would have packed nearly as much of a punch without the necessary distance of the delivery. And it served to highlight how it can be easy to see powerful public figures such as an Empress as less human, when really, they’re just like anyone else.
This is at its core a story about the underdog rising up to take power, and ultimately—revenge on the people who wronged her. There’s so much about this book that had me screaming girl power. I loved the relationship between the empress and her handmaiden, honestly. It was so tender and touching. AND WOW the twists. There were a couple fantastic twists. The kind of twist where you don’t really see it coming, but when you get there it becomes so obvious and how did you not see it, but it was done so well.
Whewww well, I could go on gushing about this novella for hours, but I won’t. I will say this, this novella is a master-class on story-telling, it’s short, to the point, and gorgeously written. I’ll recommend it to anyone who wants to write good fantasy. Or anyone who likes books in general. Also, people who enjoyed the Tensorate series by JY Neon Yang, will probably enjoy this one as well.
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