Review: Into The Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle #3) by Nghi Vo

Rating: 5🌈

The brilliance and beauty of the narrative of Into The Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle #3) by Nghi Vo is the reason I read. It’s the reason I’ll stay up all night, my mind filled with the characters and imagery and possibilities Vo has created within this powerful story.

It’s the reason why I’ll be picking it back up because another thought has just occurred to me about one aspect of the story and I need to see how fluidly Vo has buried the clues I’d missed until now. It’s a never ending treasure of culture, mythology, myth, and life. As told from multiple perspectives in a manner so crafty, so subtle and seductive that the reader is often unaware of all the narrative currents flowing through the story until later on.

I tried to figure out how to explain such a utterly complex yet seemingly simple narrative style. A Chinese nesting doll perhaps? But that too was simplistic. More like a Chinese box structure . A Chinese nesting box structure can refer to a “frame narrative , where a novel or drama is told in the form of a narrative inside a narrative (and so on), giving views from different perspectives.”

This is a format that Vo uses to great effect with Cleric Chih and Almost Brilliant. As they travel through to various locations, they gather information, knowledge of every type. They catalog it for transfer back to the Singing Hills Abbey and the other Abbey sites. But it’s not just a myth or story that they here from one person’s perspective but when they can, it’s a story they often have told to them from others experiences. Which often means a shared understanding and a deeper appreciation for the people and events that have happened.

But sometimes it’s something even more. Sometimes it’s a subtle change or something hidden behind the scenes that’s occurring that the reader isn’t aware of until later on that highlights the brilliance of the narrative that’s been building without us noticing it. And when you realize it, it’s everything.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves reading, discovering new authors, myths, the thrill of the beautifully crafted story and a great ending.

Romance? Subtle, look at the clues.

Chih uses pronouns they, them. It’s not understood whether it’s by personal preference or because they are a Cleric. Same sex couples exist and experience the same things heterosexual couples do in this world. That’s not always a happy ending. But sometimes it is.

Singing Hills Cycle:

✓ The Empress of Salt and Fortune #1

✓ When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain #2

✓ Into The Riverlands #3

◦ Mammoths at the Gates #4 – September 12, 2023

Btw, these covers are brilliant.

Buy Link:

Into the Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle Book 3)


Nghi Vo’s Hugo and Crawford Award-winning series, The Singing Hills Cycle, continues…

“A delicious bonbon of a novella about stories and their unreliable narrators, who wink at their listeners (or readers), fully expecting us to catch on.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Nghi Vo is one of the most original writers we have today.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid onSiren Queen

Wandering cleric Chih of the Singing Hills travels to the riverlands to record tales of the notorious near-immortal martial artists who haunt the region. On the road to Betony Docks, they fall in with a pair of young women far from home, and an older couple who are more than they seem. As Chih runs headlong into an ancient feud, they find themself far more entangled in the history of the riverlands than they ever expected to be.

Accompanied by Almost Brilliant, a talking bird with an indelible memory, Chih confronts old legends and new dangers alike as they learn that every story—beautiful, ugly, kind, or cruel—bears more than one face.

The Singing Hills Cycle

The Empress of Salt and Fortune
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain
Into the Riverlands
Mammoths at the Gates

The novellas of The Singing Hills Cycle are linked by the cleric Chih, but may be read in any order, with each story serving as an entry point.

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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