Finally, something new to breathe some life into this blog. The original plan was to translate a gongting (palace) novel, but my progress has been rather slow. There’s lots of historical terminology and details that I want to take some time combing through, which means it’ll be a while before I’m ready to share.
In the meantime, I’d like to introduce a xuanhuan novel I started reading recently called Peony’s Tavern (芍藥客棧 // Shao Yao Ke Zhan). It’s a light, slice-of-life type of read with a dash of Midnight Diner vibes. The titular heroine is an adorable peony demon named Shao Zi (Spoon) who lives in the backyard of a tavern with other magical flora.
We follow her daily life as she tasks herself with taking care of her beloved tavern and saving it from its new, headache-inducing innkeeper that she and her peanut gallery of friends refer to as “The Dumb Scholar.” Along the way, she helps and gets to know various guests, who each have their own stories to share. Of course, there’s romance and hijinks galore.
There are two versions of the novel written by Yi Mei Tong Qian (一枚铜钱). The original web version, written in Traditional Chinese, was called Flower Demon’s Tavern. I’ve skimmed it and it’s mostly the same, but I personally prefer the published version, which was revised for publication and retitled Peony’s Tavern.
From what I gathered, portions of the text were restructured, the side stories were integrated into the main text, and the copy has been edited to be more concise. I liked that it brings out more of the whimsy already in the original story and improves the flow by trimming down some of the excess. As such, the edition I’ll be translating and sharing Peony’s Tavern. Perhaps I’ll read the original in full one day and share any interesting bits that might’ve been cut for print… 🙂
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The flower demon, Shao Zi, understands how to be grateful. She was taken in by the old innkeeper of the tavern, so she must spend the rest of her life guarding the tavern.
But when the new innkeeper took over, the normally peaceful tavern changed. One by one, demons, ghosts, and mortals with unfulfilled wishes came over to wreak havoc.
At first, Shao Zi tried her best to drive away these evildoers, but then she realized that every guest had their own hardships.
The most precious sentiments she’s ever experienced in the world came from these guests. By experiencing their pains along with their joys, she tasted an emotional satisfaction that she has never had in these five hundred years of life.
However, helping others always comes at a price. When she wavered over the notion of extending a helping hand for the sake of protecting the tavern from destruction, someone stood firmly by her side.
“You use your kindness to help others, I’ll use my strength to protect you.”
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Note: Peony’s Tavern is broken up into 8 arcs in the original work. These arcs are marked as chapters and are further subdivided into individual into subchapters. Each is the length of a typical chapter in a novel, adding up to 86 subchapters total.