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The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden…
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The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden (edition 2006)

by Catherynne M. Valente

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,259609,563 (4.25)81
Member:tullyis
Title:The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden
Authors:Catherynne M. Valente
Info:Spectra (2006), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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Work details

The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente

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» See also 81 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
No one can write like Catherynne Valente. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
This is a lovely layered collection of fairy tales, the weird and dark kind. A girl hidden in a garden spins tales for a young prince and the deeper the layers of stories within stories go, the closer they are to divinity. They loop around and touch eachother. They were a little exhausting, but I was sad to see the end. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
This is the first book in The Orphan’s Tale duology and was amazing! I loved the storytelling and how the stories were nested inside each other. This was beautifully written, full of amazing imagery and I really loved it. This was hands down my favorite Valente book yet!

The story starts with a young prince who ventures out to talk to the strange girl with the black mask on her skin who lives in the palace gardens. When he finally meets her she offers to tell him the stories that are twined in the black mask on her face and about her history. The book is broken into two main stories and within each story many other stories are nested. The whole thing is beautifully written and crafted and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s so creative and magical.

This book takes some time to read. Sometimes you end up nested in stories four or five layers deep and as you emerge from the layers it takes a bit of thought and effort to remember where/who you started with. However, the way everything comes together is so amazingly well done I loved it. You can tell a lot of thought and care when into crafting this tale and the way it is woven together is just spectacular. Valente is truly one of the most talented authors at weaving magical, creative stories.

Overall this is my favorite Valente book yet! I can't wait to read the second book. I would recommend to those who enjoy magical storytelling and amazing adventures. This does take some time and effort to read (it’s not an easy read) but it is completely worth it. I am looking forward to immersing myself in the second book “In the Cities of Coin and Spice”. ( )
  krau0098 | Feb 17, 2019 |
Lovely, compelling. I went into it with a certain amount of trepidation about modern fairy tales; I didn't think there was much space available between being too much an Arabian Nights homage and being too clever entirely, but In The Night Garden finds that space and thrives there. It felt a bit more mature than [b:Palimpsest|3973532|Palimpsest|Catherynne M. Valente|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320532857s/3973532.jpg|4019291], maybe just less dream-like. The interweaving tales, themes, and characters have just the right amount of complexity (I flipped back to read previous passages a bit, but didn't feel overwhelmed by the nested stories), gradually building up a picture of the world in which they take place. This is one of those books that I found myself thinking about constantly. ( )
  wirehead | Sep 3, 2018 |
I thought this was a very clever and unique book. At least, I’ve never read anything like it. It tells a lot of stories, I couldn’t say how many, but definitely more than a dozen. However, this is not an anthology. It’s layer upon layer upon layer of related stories nested inside each other.

The framing story is about a lonely girl who people shun because they believe she’s a demon. A curious boy approaches her and, over the course of a few days, she tells him two stories. Each of the two stories takes up about half of the book. Within each story, some of the characters tell other stories. Within those stories, somebody tells another story. These stories often tell the backstory of a particular character, so you’re sort of gaining more and more history, going backwards in time as you go forward in the book. Periodically, the book returns to the higher layers to continue those stories, and then it possibly goes back into the same lower layers to finish incomplete stories there, or else it starts a new inner story with a new set of layers. Some of the different branches were only moderately related, but there were lots of little connections here and there which were fun to watch for.

Sound confusing? It really wasn’t. The first main story never went more than 5 layers deep. The second main story went up to 7 layers deep a couple times. When I first realized the structure of the book, I was a little worried that I would get confused, so I started checking myself each time the story went into a deeper layer, recounting to myself the steps that had led there. I was always able to do so quickly and without confusion, and I think that process helped me keep it all straight in my head. I could see where some people might find this book disorienting, though. For me, it may have helped that this type of thought process is part of my day job as a programmer; I kept making comparisons to it while I was reading. Reading this was kind of like keeping track of the call stack while reading or debugging a program as it progresses forward and backward through layers of subroutines.

The stories all borrow heavily from fairy tales. This was especially noticeable to me since I had read through The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales earlier this year. It really isn’t a retelling of any of those stories, but there were lots of little nods, sometimes with similarities and sometimes with twists, and with the tiniest hint of satire. Unlike many of the Grimm’s tales, however, this book was internally consistent, the characters’ actions made sense, and it never felt silly.

I do still have a little bit of Fairy Tale Fatigue from the Grimm’s book though, so that might have impacted my enjoyment of some of the stories. Some layers were more interesting than others, so the book didn’t always hold my interest, which is the main reason I’m not rating it higher. ( )
3 vote YouKneeK | Sep 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Catherynne M. Valenteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Foster, JonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaluta, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Sarah, who,
when she was very young,
wanted a Garden
First words
Once there was a child whose face was like the new moon shining on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds.
Quotations
Stories are like prayers. It does not matter when you begin, or when you end, only that you bend a knee and say the words.
Metamorphosis is the most profound of all acts.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553384031, Paperback)

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….

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:03 -0400)

A young girl lives in the palace garden, an outcast because of the strange inky tattoos around her eyes. These markings hold entire stories of enchanted beasts, magical horses, wizards, and other magnificent and mysterious beings, part of an intricately woven tapestry of tales that make up the history of the exiled girl. When a young prince convinces the girl to tell him one of her stories, he begins a journey that will bring him a little closer to a great mystery.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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