readingtrance

book reviews by Althea

Review: The Story of Kao Yu – Peter S. Beagle

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The Story of Kao Yu
The Story of Kao Yu by Peter S. Beagle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just googled “Kao Yu” to see if he might be a historical figure, and apparently, “kao yu” means “roast fish.” Hmm. That does not add anything to my appreciation of the story. Some pretty tasty-looking dishes, though!

Kao Yu, here, is an upstanding judge. To fulfill his civil duties, he travels a route through rural China, making himself available to hear criminal cases. But something about him is special: he has the favor of the qilin, a mythic creature who acts as an avatar of justice; and doles out summary execution to the dishonest. Kao Yu is grateful for this sign of divine favor, and glad to defer to Heavenly opinion on the thorniest of cases.

But then, he is called upon to judge a petty pickpocket – who happens to be an alluringly beautiful young woman. For the first time, Kao Yu’s objectivity may be compromised…

As with Beagle’s recent novel, ‘Summerlong’ I feel that the themes of this story may be more greatly appreciated by older readers. I liked the ‘traditional’ style of the writing.
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