Been a while since I did a short story review, and boy did I miss it. Let’s get going with a return to form for the kinds of tales I want to see more of.
This week’s short story is These Wonderous Sweets, by Tony Pi. You can read it here. What better way to start off the new year with a powerful Chinese tale about mysterious candies and a slice of transformation. So, let’s get into it.
These Wonderous Sweets
The story follows Ao, a candy crafter who gets wrapped up in a plot devised by the Ten Crows. Ao’s mission? Acting as a decoy for the pale tigress, while battling the mind of a feral tiger against his own humanity.
A wonderful story with a nice flowing plot and a unique set up as well. I’ve always been a lover of Asian folklore. Chinese, Japanese, Indian, even some south Asian lore I’ve been keen to. So something like this is a nice touch of magic and folklore.
The story felt unique too. The hero using candy to animate with souls is a great concept, especially with having Ao’s spirit interact with the creature itself. This also adds suspense due to the fact that the human mind and the feral mind clash. A species that’s capable of rationality against another with more primal instincts. I do feel that some animals are capable of human-level interaction whilst still being animals.
This also goes along the lines of what it means to be human. Ao’s fighting with the soul of the tiger he created, a beast capable of hunting, whereas a snake and a chicken were easier to manage. Tigers are hunters first and foremost, so it would make sense for the tiger candy to have this resistance.
The story itself is fun too. Trying to make a decoy so that the Ten Crows are fooled into believing the fake is the real thing added for a lot of suspense. Not to mention disguising as an animal instead of acting like a human. Notably, this appears to draw off of previous works, so I was a little confused going into the backstory of why everything happened to make the story exist. Either way, the suspense was tight and being so fragile, not to mention having an out of body experience, it made the stakes higher for Ao than anyone else.
It did make me wonder what would have happened if the candy broke while Ao was inside, and what would have happened if Ao lost his humanity to the tiger. What would his mind have been like? It’s thoughts like this that make me enjoy transformation plot lines, especially when you start to lose the sense of humanity within you. It makes for a good sense of urgency.
There are similar stories within this series and I would love to see more out of this. I would have to read the previous tales, but this seems like a wonderful set of short stories to get into. Magic, history, and good old fashioned transformation. What’s not to like?!
This is a great story to start the new decade off. Filled with a great amount of suspense, fun magic, good characters, and above all, the perfect story for the inn. Do give it a chance when you can.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.