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Tell me a story [Dec. 4th, 2006|08:12 am]
[Current Mood |lovedenraptured]

I finished reading Cathrynne Valente's The Orphan's Tales yesterday.

You want to buy this book.

For those of you who don't know, Cathrynne Valente is catvalente here on livejournal. This is her sixth novel, and her first one with a major publisher. It is a gorgeous retelling of fairy tales--not the sweet and Disneyfied version but dark and mysterious versions where evil is not readily thwarted and salvation does not immediately equate "happily ever after."

This is not to say that the tales are dour, Hans Christian Andersen morality plays. Far from it. There is much joy and passion in the stories, but there are many surprises as well.

The Orphan of the title is a girl of noble descent who was born under an unfortunate curse - she is marked in a way that incites fear in the extensive household of the Sultan, and no one will claim her for their own. Eventually abandoned to the garden, she does not die but instead thrives, a spectre until a young boy of the royal family stumbles upon her and she begins telling him the tales that are her destiny to tell.

You will recognize the skeletons of some fairy tales beneath Valente's rich layering of interpretation. Others are obscure (the woman has done her homework) or obscured to the point of being completely fresh. There is a feminist twist to the tales, but not the kind of heavy-handed moralizing that frequently burdens such retellings. Instead, the layered tales take you deeper and deeper into an amazing world that you really regret leaving upon turning the last page.

The writing itself is a confection of imagery, rich and sumptuous. It's a book to luxuriate in.

I can't think of a better Christmas present for someone who loves fantasy, particularly since it is illustrated with gorgeous drawings as well.

Go now. Buy. You'll thank me.

[User Picture]From: vrax
2006-12-04 01:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah I bought it for my wife for Xmas and it looked so cool that I couldn't wait to give it to her. She loves it. Now there are multiple copies floating around in my family.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-04 02:40 pm (UTC)
I will probably be giving it to people. It's lovely.
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[User Picture]From: sparkfrost
2006-12-04 03:16 pm (UTC)
I read it over Thanksgiving weekend. I literally could not put it down. Just sat in the living room reading it while my family watched football and the macy's parade.

So good!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-04 03:18 pm (UTC)
It really was a delight, every page of it.
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[User Picture]From: letoile82
2006-12-04 05:19 pm (UTC)
I am buying one for myself and one for my aunt. It sounds like our type of book! :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-04 07:50 pm (UTC)
You won't regret it!
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[User Picture]From: moon_ferret
2006-12-04 07:03 pm (UTC)
I finished it the other night and had promised to write a review. I may just send them to you. All I can do is hand over a copy and say "Read this and thank me later."

That was a FANTASTIC read.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-04 07:52 pm (UTC)
You are welcome to link. Make people read!!!
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[User Picture]From: moon_ferret
2006-12-05 01:31 am (UTC)
I have already given one as a gift. I am sure I will give more.
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[User Picture]From: alexmegami
2006-12-04 11:36 pm (UTC)
It's on the wishlist. Although I'm kind of wishing that I'd heard about this two weeks ago so that I could have ACTUALLY gotten it for Christmas ;) Ah well. Soon I will have money... soooooon.
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[User Picture]From: morgi
2006-12-08 11:44 am (UTC)
Because the Anderson library is awesome, I have requested it and should be getting it this weekend or next week. And if I love it as much as you did I'll be getting my very own copy.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-08 12:41 pm (UTC)
It's great to do library requests - get the book into the library and into the hands of more readers.

I'll be curious to hear what you think!
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