Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (Review)

In-yo would say that the war was won by silenced and nameless women, and it would be hard to argue with her.

I heard so much hype about THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE and when I realised the ebook was on preorder for a bargain price I just had to have it. And it totally stood up to the hype. If anything, it exceeded it by miles.

Rating: 5 stars!

The plot:

A young royal was sent away from her home in the far north for a loveless political marriage. The south wasn’t welcoming to her and as soon as she produced her ‘required’ male heir, she was sent away into exile with only her servants by her side. Years later, her handmaiden tells the tale of her rise to power through the memories and mementos she left behind.

What did I think?

The Empress of Salt and Fortune is the kind of story that gets better the more times you read it, and the more time you let it live in your head and your heart. I was surprised by the way the story was told when I first opened it, but I bought into the narrative format immediately. The story of the Empress, In-yo isn’t told first hand. Instead, historical items and mementos are carefully logged and stories told about them, and it’s through those stories that In-yo’s tale unfolds. It broke up the story into bite-sized chunks, like a fairytale, and I loved that sense of being told the story instead of reading it firsthand.

The story itself is sad and poignant. The image of a lonely Empress being exiled as soon as her ‘use’ was up and the friendship that grew between In-yo and Rabbit was beautiful. The novella is only a little over 100 pages, but the characters are beautifully fleshed out and so well developed that I felt more emotionally connected to them than characters in some novels I’ve read. The narrative is tight and concise without a single word wasted to bring the reader along on Chih’s discoveries, and left me with a sense of genuine loss that the story was over. I can’t wait for the second story in this series so I can enjoy more storytelling from Chih’s unique perspective. Nghi Vo is a writer that I’ll be insta-buying from now on.


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One thought on “Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (Review)

  1. JonBob

    This book is beautiful right? I loved the way the narrative was framed too, it added a really touching layer to the way we experience the story as the reader. And Nghi Vo’s writing is gorgeous; I really felt connected to her world through the presentation of all the little trinkets that made up a life. So much packed into this wonderful little book.

    Liked by 1 person

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