Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

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Goodreads

A young royal from the far north, is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully.
Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor’s lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for.
At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She’s a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.

I was very unsure going into this book – I don’t usually read short stories like this and most of the time just didn’t know what to think. Although this book was beautiful and whimsical, I had mixed feelings about the whole thing. I was very confused throughout about who the characters actually were, and found I had to completely put it out of my head to enjoy the story.

And I have to say, the writing was lovely. I loved the idea of having fairytales sprinkled throughout the story, and I became very engrossed in those. I also loved the Asian and feminist rep!

“Angry mothers raise daughters fierce enough to fight wolves.”

I can see the good in this story and in parts I really loved it. But unfortunately most of the time I was left feeling confused and overwhelmed with little idea of what was happening. I enjoyed it once I let myself get lost in the story, but it just simply wasn’t long enough to allow the read to sympathise with the characters.

I really enjoyed some aspects of this book and it was beautiful, but it left me feeling like a lot was missing, and the premise was just better than how I ended up feeling about the story.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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