Tuesday, January 14, 2020

These Wondrous Sweets, by Tony Pi

[BCS]
★★★☆☆

(Chinese Historical Fantasy; Candyman Ao) Ao needs to mislead unknown villains who’re harassing healers in Chengdu, but he’s still healing from his own wounds, and his magic isn’t as effective as it needs to be. (8,010 words; Time: 26m)

I recommend readers enjoy these sweet little stories starting from the beginning; they’re all available free online. That’s necessary to properly savor this adventure.

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 294, published on .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2020.028 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: In the previous adventure, Ao saved the Pale Tiger (goddess of the city of Chengdu), but both he and she were wounded. She needs the regular attention of a healer, but the Crows are tracking all healers in hopes that one will lead them to the tiger so they can finish her off.

Despite his own wound, Ao has to distract the Crows long enough for Dr. Yan to get away so she can continue helping the Pale Tiger. His best idea is to create one of his confections and make it look like the real Pale Tiger, since surely the Crows will follow that rather than Dr. Yan.

For a change, he can call on the Tiger Spirit (which animates the Zodiac sign) since it already owes him a debt; he doesn’t have to do some special task for Tiger. And it gives him the help he needs to make a convincing Pale Tiger, but at the expense of giving him “tiger instinct,” which makes him struggle to assert his humanity once he creates the beast.

As he goes about his task, there’s plenty of tension and excitement.

Con: But it ends in the middle of things—with the threat to Ao greater than it ever has been. Previous episodes usually set up the next one, but in this case, it feels like one large episode has been cut in half. In fact, one can argue that this really continues the previous episode, since it doesn’t stand alone without it.

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