Catherynne M. Valente : The Orphan’s Tales: In the night garden , Vol. I
I recently read Valente’s book, and first let me say I truly enjoyed it. I might even love it a little. So I wanted to write a little about the book, but since I’m apparently incapable of writing about a book without skittering in all directions I also ended up writing about female characters and some pondering on if this is a collection of fairytales or fantasy literature. You are here by warned. ;) Also - there are a few tiny spoilers in here, but nothing major and nothing you wouldn't find on the dust cover.
The main frame of The Orphan’s Tales takes place at night when whispered stories are weaved into a wonderful tapestry. The storyteller is a strange young girl who has stories inked on her eyelids, like a swirling black mask. She is the orphan of the title, and these are her tales.
The second part of the title In the Night Garden is particularly apt for Valente likes the shadow and dusk side of things. She seems so side with the witches and the monsters of the fairytales, and desires to show that what might look ugly doesn’t necessarily act ugly. Foul is fair and fair is foul indeed.
Valente’s world is drawn from quite lot of cultures. There are traces of Arabian Nights, of Russian fairytales, of Inuit stories and African tales – and her brilliance lies with her ability to weave this all together and make a coherent, fantastical world. There are several protagonists, and some really scary villains. And all of it is described in a very poetic language that manages to thread the fine line between descriptive and fascinating, and flowery, purple prose.
( Female Characters )
( Fantasy or fairytale? - some touches of fairytale meta. )