I usually gravitate towards Tor.com titles because, let’s be honest, it’s where you can find some of the best science fiction out there today. While I enjoy fantasy, my genre sweet spot is almost always “speculative” and light science fiction. Well, The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo, changed my mind about fantasy novellas for good. This little novella packs such a punch, and is simultaneously heart-wrenching and heart-warming; it’s feminist as heck, and doesn’t hold back or apologize for it’s presence.
Set in a fantasy empire evocative of imperial China, our characters are wrapped in an atmosphere that’s equal parts lush and rustic. A story within the story unravels itself as a cleric and elderly stranger talk and reminisce. From their conversations, a beautiful story of friendship between two young women, a lonely empress and her poor handmaiden, is born. The heights and complexities of female friendships are thoroughly explored, and the ending left me so contentedly pleased.
A short read perfect for lovers of both fantasy and historical fiction, I recommend this to anyone looking for a world to sink into on a quiet evening. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by this remarkable little tale.
Are you tired of me giving Tor.com books 5 stars? Can’t stop. Won’t stop. And it’s definitely not stopping here. 5/5 stars and my new favorite fantasy novella to date.
Thanks to Netgalley and Tor.com Publishing for the eArc of this title. The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo releases on March 24, 2020.