Catherynne M. Valente - The Orphan's Tales: in the Night Garden

Posted By: Tino Gara
Catherynne M. Valente - The Orphan's Tales: in the Night Garden

Catherynne M. Valente - The Orphan's Tales: in the Night Garden
Spectra | ISBN: 978 0553384031 | 31/10/2006 | English | 496 pages | PDF & LIT | 10 MB

A Book of Wonders for Grown-Up Readers

Every once in a great while a book comes along that reminds us of the magic spell that stories can cast over us–to dazzle, entertain, and enlighten. Welcome to the Arabian Nights for our time–a lush and fantastical epic guaranteed to spirit you away from the very first page….

Secreted away in a garden, a lonely girl spins stories to warm a curious prince: peculiar feats and unspeakable fates that loop through each other and back again to meet in the tapestry of her voice. Inked on her eyelids, each twisting, tattooed tale is a piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own hidden history. And what tales she tells! Tales of shape-shifting witches and wild horsewomen, heron kings and beast princesses, snake gods, dog monks, and living stars–each story more strange and fantastic than the one that came before. From ill-tempered “mermaid” to fastidious Beast, nothing is ever quite what it seems in these ever-shifting tales–even, and especially, their teller. Adorned with illustrations by the legendary Michael Kaluta, Valente’s enchanting lyrical fantasy offers a breathtaking reinvention of the untold myths and dark fairy tales that shape our dreams. And just when you think you’ve come to the end, you realize the adventure has only begun….

Brilliant Fairy Tales
If you had asked me a couple of years ago what my favorite fiction book was (except that's a very hard question, of course), I would have probably said American Gods or Diamond Age.

I still love those books, but this is my new favorite.

It is hands down the best book of fairy tales that I've ever read, and probably the best fiction book. Just like the Arabian Nights, it is a series of nesting tales with an over-arching narrative to frame it. But every single tale is original here (and yet so archetypally familiar), and the tales and the meta-narrative are much more intertwined and integral, and tell an epic tale of a world almost our own.

It's a tale about a young girl in a palace garden, cursed to exile until she has told all of the stories tattooed around her eyes, and of course the stories themselves, stories of pirates and living ships, the deaths of Stars, of slave wizards and bitter old witches, of princes and beast maidens, heretic papesses and jeweled cities, body thieves and skin peddlers, monsters and saints and mathematician kings. They are stories of strong women, of men ambitious and passionate and despondent, of cruelty and kindness, of making hard choices and facing the consequences, but also of plain silly wonder. They are lucid and lyrical, and a little bit painful, like True things are, and filled with longing and fear and beauty and blood and love and fierce joy.

This book made me cry several times, sometimes because of the story, and sometimes just out of relief and recognition – this is how tales should be told, wisely and fearlessly. I have been a fan of Valente's writing for a while, but this is her most brilliant and straightforward and accessible book yet.

I cannot recommend it enough.
About the Author
Catherynne M. Valente was born in the Pacific Northwest, grew up in California, and now lives in Ohio with her two dogs.

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