Based on the Chinese myth of Meng Jiangnu who brought down the Great Wall with her tears of mourning, this instalment of the Canongate Myths series has ended up a surreal fairytale against a backdrop of a country in despair.
Binu comes from a village where crying from your eyes is forbidden as doing so will mean your death is imminent. The women of the village get round this by shedding their tears via various body parts. When her husband is taken away to work on the Great Wall, Binu is grief-stricken and sets out across China to take him his winter clothes. I’m not familiar with much Chinese myth or superstition but I did enjoy all the unusual beliefs that Binu encounters.
Whilst only a short novel, it does remind me of the sort of journey based tales that began with Gulliver’s Travels and has become a favourite within the fantasy genre. It even remind me a little of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust in a way. Binu is travelling across a land unknown to her and she meets strange people on the way and gets herself in and out of all sorts of scrapes.
I was disappointed by the low average rating on Goodreads, though obviously not enough to put off reading it. Expectations have a big part to play in enjoyment of a book. If you are looking for historical fiction then pass it by but if you enjoy Grimm’s Fairy Tales and stories where the character goes on a weird and wonderful journey, definitely give Binu a go.
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