Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1)” as Want to Read:
In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales #1)

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  3,432 ratings  ·  494 reviews
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
Paperback, 483 pages
Published October 31st 2006 by Bantam Dell (first published October 28th 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineThe Goose Girl by Shannon HaleBeauty by Robin McKinleyThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanFairest by Gail Carson Levine
The Best Fairytales and Retellings
93rd out of 1,540 books — 6,767 voters
Graceling by Kristin CashoreVampire Academy by Richelle MeadAlanna by Tamora PiercePoison Study by Maria V. SnyderFire by Kristin Cashore
Best "Strong Female" Fantasy Novels
205th out of 3,770 books — 9,748 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mar 01, 2008 Grace rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture," or so the old quote says. I can't help but remember this saying as I attempt to write down some of my fragmented, all too feeble thoughts regarding Catherynne Valente's masterwork, The Orphan Tales: In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice. To start out with a bang, I have to tell you what my reaction was upon completing the last page of the second book. It was 1am, and I set the book down, after having to re-read one of th ...more
mark monday
Tales within tales, tales out of space, tales that spring from stars that fall from sky to take human shape; the writer writes like the dreamer dreams dreams - some dreams yearning and romantic, others dark and tragic, each dream holding a little bit of the next dream in its heart: the story as Oriental Ouroboros: the Arabian Nights as template, as both starting point and point of resolution; themes and metaphors and symbols slowly surfacing, to disappear and then reappear again, transformed, re ...more
Tales within tales within tales, all woven together like a magical, colorful tapestry depicting griffins, dead moon walkers, beastly princesses, princely beasts, pirate saints, Stars, snake gods, and so much more, all written in dark ink around the eyes of a little girl. Reading Valente's prose is like dreaming; during the act, you understand everything and think you see the truth, but when jerked back into reality, the stories fade together into a colorful, abstract image. It's pretty and meani ...more
Sep 09, 2011 Carol. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Carol. by: Fantacy Aficionados, undoubtedly
Book as arabesque. Short story leads to short story, each providing background and impetus for the next, characters answering questions to what led them to that intersection. It's a beautiful technique that comes back around to many of the original story characters. The trouble for me is that the short story makes it easy to put down and go do something else, as it's often a natural break in the plot and action, so it took me far too long to finish. More clues or story in the background setting ...more
Dec 10, 2009 Tatiana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in dark fantasy
This book was a truly magical experience. I came across it almost by accident looking for something to satisfy Mysopoethic award winner category for my reading challenge. I am very happy I did because "The Orphan's Tales" is definitely not something I would normally be interested in.

This book is an Arabian Nights-inspired collection of stories that are nested within each other and cross over in the most unexpected places. The stories are not simple re-workings of old worn-out fairy tales. Now a
5.5 to 6.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION and may make it on to me list of "All Time Favorites." This is an absolutely amazing novel that I believe could become a "classic" in years to come. A modern fairy tale told as a series of interwoven "stories within stories within stories" that all come together in one fashion or another (itself a brilliant achievement). This is a "one of a kind experience" and I can not wait to read the sequel.

Nominee: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2007)
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I haven't read any fantasy quite like Catherynne M. Valente's The Orphan's Tales duology. This is the story of a young orphan girl who is shunned because of the dark smudges that appeared on her eyelids when she was a baby. She lives alone in a sultan's garden because people think she's a demon and nobody will claim her. However, one of the young sons of the sultan, a curious fellow, finds her in the garden and asks her about her dark eyes. She explains th
I've read parts of The Arabian Night about thirty years ago. In the Night Garden succeeds in recapturing that sense of wonder, of exploring incredibly rich, exotic cities, meeting fantastic creatures, magicians, kings and vagabonds, sailing to mythical shores or descending into mysterious caverns. And Catherynne Valente managed this without copying or borrowing from the original tales.

Her world may be inspired from different folk tales (I recognized Baba Yaga hut and people turned into birds, an
This has taken forever for me to finish. I just didn't want to go back to it. The first part is beautifully written, but her prose feels very effortful, as if all the beauty had to be hammered out, line by line, and she wants you to see each stroke. It finally picked up, but the interconnecting stories create a jumbled mess of a plot, not at all helped by the fact that many characters live for centuries, therefore making a general timeline almost impossible to put together. Very prettily describ ...more
The tales told to the young Prince come from the tattoos inked on the skin of a young woman. These same strange tattoos that are keeping her isolated from the rest of the sultan's household, make her seem fascinating to the prince. Each night he sneaks out to meet with her in the Sultan's gardens.

This book is two series of interwoven, short, personal tales told from the tattoos. Tales that ultimately braid together. Like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales there is a series of people's pilgrimages told i
This is much the kind of book I would expect to be written by someone who changed her name to 'Catherynne', with that spelling—it's all fantastical creatures and quests and magic. It is a much more intelligent book than I expected, with stories nested within stories, and gender tropes are inverted (there are no damsels in distress here) to my great satisfaction. The maiden is the monster is the pirate; women can grow up to be fierce warriors.

However, the Arabian Nights-style format can be a litt
Kagama-the Literaturevixen
I guess what I really have a problem with is how the tales are told in this book. I was expecting a 1001 nights approach to it all. One night,one tale. You know the thing.

But in this the stories just pile on top of each other, The girl starts out with a story and then someone in that story tells a story to another character and then we go into that story and so on.

It was maddening to me and I lost interest in trying to follow the increasingly more confusing story.
The one with the stories within stories within stories, many of them centering around a maiden who's been transformed into a monster.

I found the Arabian Nights-style format confusing and distracting a lot of the time (despite the helpful chapter titles: The Tale of the Prince and the Goose, Concluded), but in the end, as characters reappeared in new contexts, I began to see how the structure allowed for a more textured and interesting book.

I don't understand the Tiptree Award falling on this bo
First Second Books
This is a book-inside-a-book-inside-a-book set of interlocking stories about the world, told by an orphan who never leaves her garden. And it’s fantastic.

The orphan’s stories – and the stories the characters in her stories tell – and the stories the characters in their stories tell – somehow make up the backbone of a marvelous world where wonderful things (and horrible things) can occur, against the backdrop of a new mythology where the stars have come to earth (accidentally).

You know the Arabi
An Odd1
"In the Garden" lives an almost woman abandoned as a toddler when an inky mask appeared across her eyes. Catherynne M. (Why? Are not middle initials customarily to distinguish common names?) Valente writes like a computer programmed to arbitrarily join a list of adjectives with nouns, and randomly extract one role as narrator to generate a new not-story.

Long lasting tales crossing cultures speak to basic eternal human emotions and conflicts. Soap operas are the most popular longest running show
This is a lovely book of fairy tale(s) set in an interesting frame narrative. I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers, but I was very struck with the way that all the stories blended into each other, as though the Arabian Nights (its obvious and overwhelming influence) were layered like an onion, instead of serial like a pod full of peas.

The book deals with broad fairy-tale-revisionist/feminist themes, such as the nature of heroism, the magic power of the non-beautiful and even the mon
Five stars--not because the book is without flaws but because I think the uniqueness of its strengths makes up for its deficiencies. This isn't the most pleasant reading experience I've ever had. No doubt the responsibility for this is shared between the author's quirks and mine. I felt the prose was a bit (and sometimes significantly more than a bit) overworked. I know it's the sort of poetic, native-sounding style the author was going for, but I find it unpleasant to be suffocated by great hea ...more
The strange beauty of this book is hard to define. It’s a tale of stars who bleed light, of towered maidens who turn into beasts, of seaworthy ships grown from live trees. Tales within tales are interwoven in a complex tapestry of story – held together by the motif of a mysterious girl with stories to tell to a runaway prince. The tales seem to flow from all languages and traditions: the sword and steed of European stories meet with the spices and tunics of the Arabian peninsula; Native American ...more
Tanja Berg
This was a difficult book to rate. On the one hand it is an amazing achievement - wonderfully wrought, beautifully told, full of fantastical creatues. On the other hand it is terribly difficult to read. The stories unfold like a Russian doll - there's a story in a story in a story in a story. Worse, the book is divided into two parts. It was laying a 5000 piece puzzle from two different corners and without the cover of the box to help. Phew! It's a relief it's done. And yes, I had to finish, the ...more
I've heard such great things about this book, but I'm finding it slow going.

It's basically one person telling a story about another person telling a story about another person, etc., etc. So far, the longest is 6 levels deep of story tellers. This has resulted in a disconnect for me. I don't feel engaged by the characters. It's like a series of fairy tales, where there is next to no character development. Don't get me wrong, there is some, but not enough for me to care about the characters. I c
Stories are told within stories, moving ever inward (or outward), echoing each others themes and characters. A very imaginative take on what it means to be a fantasy archetype--a maiden, a monster, a captain, a witch. Each tells their own story, and the characters in the story tell *their* own story, and so on. Because there's no prolonged narrative tension, nor any one character in every story, the book lost my interest a few times. I'm glad I perservered, because for every lackluster tale ther ...more
Warning: Spoilers.
The roles of gender have been broken in this book! “You always come to my window, you come to find me and carry me away-that is not what girls are supposed to do. It is what the Princes do in all the stories.” “This is not that kind of story” (452). I did not expect this book to get as funny as it did. “A Discourse? On whether or not I am going to kill the Leucrotta?” (109) ... “I am a Prince,” he replied, being rather dense. “It is the function of a Prince-value A-to kill mons
Connie  Kuntz
My friend Kris Veches recommended that I read this book to my kids. If you know Kris, then you know that you can trust her, and should just do what she says. Some people are like that.

This is a "Young Adult" book, but I, like Kris, recommend it for younger children because the imagery is so immediate and complete and beautiful and unique and...perfect.

It took me a long time to read this out loud to the kids. It is almost 500 pages long, but the chapters are short and if you don't mind taking ab
I give up. I'm 2/3 of the way through this book and I can't read any more. I don't care how it ends. I've been lost through most of the book. I've only stuck it out this long because I couldn't stand the thought of giving up on a book - any book. In the Night Garden is a series of short tales nested within each other, all supposedly contributing to the overall story line. For example, there might be a woman telling the story of her son and in the middle of that story, her son meets an old man. W ...more
Nancy O'Toole
Alone in a garden lives a young girl filled with stories. Called a demon due to the dark markings around her eyes, she has never had a single person to share these stories with. That is until a boy creeps into the garden, and befriends her. Against the wishes of his tyrannical older sister, he continues to visit her night after night, all just to hear the wonderful tales she spins.

The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden is the optional second book for a book club this month (the main book is Pal
I may go back to this book -- or I may not. As so many have noted, it is not a work you can pick up when you have a few minutes to read, and I simply don't have the hours to devote to reading it straight through. Although, frankly, I can't imagine doing that, either.

I can understand why so many rate it so highly, but -- the word "pretentious" keeps coming to mind. As well as "convoluted" and "needlessly complicated." Valente is clearly in love with language and words; her writing is deep and lay
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I'd heard great things about this book, but avoided it because it's described as a collection of short stories, and I don't much like short stories. I shouldn't have worried. It's true that In the Night Garden has an unusual structure: stories within stories within stories. The frame story involves an orphan girl telling stories to a prince, and within her stories, characters tell each other stories about their own lives. It works so well because they're all interconnected; this isn't a collecti ...more
I reviewed this book for the Women of Genre Fiction challenge hosted by Worlds Without End. I also review fantasy books weekly on my blog, The Other Side of the Rain.
Illustrations by the talented and versatile Michael Kaluta

In the Night Garden is essentially Arabian Nights, if Scheherazade had been a feminist literary critic with a working knowledge of world mythology and a wicked sense of irony. Certainly, this Scheherazade wouldn’t have ended up marrying the Sultan who put his first 1,000 wives to the death.

It starts with a young girl with dark tatt
Slap Happy
In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente is a novel that is told through a series of stories within stories, and each story runs for about four or five pages before there is a shift to the next one usually related by a character from that particular story, or steps back to the previous story which, of course, was told by one of its characters, and then that story continues once again. Oftentimes, up to five stories are running concurrently between each other. The novel cuts back and forth be ...more
I got this book from the library because I saw the author speak at a convention and she kicked ass, in so many ways. A very cool person.

I read a review on Amazon which I thought was spot-on. Once you get used to the language (which really grated on me for the first chapter or so) it was very enjoyable. The stories are amazing and very creative.

Valente pours similes into her writing by the bucketful. There's often more than one per sentence, they rarely make sense (is it artful writing? or is i
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • In the Forest of Forgetting
  • The Wood Wife
  • Redemption in Indigo
  • Fudoki
  • Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter's Tales
  • The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales
  • Thomas the Rhymer
  • The Book of Flying
  • Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer
  • Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti
  • Alphabet of Thorn
  • Lud-in-the-Mist
  • The Etched City
  • Waking the Moon
  • Elfland (Aetherial Tales, #1)
  • Tender Morsels
  • The Alchemy of Stone
Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and cam ...more
More about Catherynne M. Valente...

Other Books in the Series

The Orphan's Tales (2 books)
  • In the Cities of Coin and Spice (The Orphan's Tales, #2)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) Deathless (Deathless, #1) The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2) Palimpsest The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland, #3)

Share This Book

“Never put your faith in a Prince. When you require a miracle, trust in a Witch.” 271 likes
“We all have someone we think shines so much more than we do that we are not even a moon to their sun, but a dead little rock floating in space next to their gold and their blaze.” 44 likes
More quotes…