The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
Spectra Books: paperback published 2006: 483 pages
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 horse-women, 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…
I was harangued into reading this by the ever-fabulous Lunameth. And I’m glad she did! I think the word “lyrical” is the best way to describe these stories – because, essentially, they are a lot of short stories bundled into one long thread. Which is what I quite enjoyed this book – little bite size pieces that were each enjoyable in themselves, but even better strung together. I really don’t have much more to say on the matter because it’s a book that has to be read, not talked about. If you’re a fantasy writer, you MUST READ THIS BOOK. It gave me more inspiration than any writing exercise book ever could. If you like fairy tales, fantasy novels, short stories or even lots and lots of description, this book is for you.
Downside? It felt like it took forever to read, because there were just SO MANY stories. And sometimes they got so insanely descriptive I had to re-read a few pages just to make sure I understood what was being said. Also, it ends on a cliffhanger.
Next book: Well, what did you expect? The second season of Game of Thrones is on TV (massive addiction, and E at work is my geek-buddy so we talk GoT every Tuesday over tea) so it really just had to be another George R.R Martin book. This time it’s Book Four in the series (the fifth volume), A Feast for Crows. Seeing as the last book was so traumatic, I really hope he stops killing people in this one. Just for a bit. Maybe have a marriage or a cute baby or something. Or a unicorn galloping over a rainbow with glitter in its mane… y’know, just to lighten the mood a bit.