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The Orphan's Tales: In...
Catherynne M. Valente
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The Orphan's Tales: In The Night Garden The Book Of The Sea (The Orphan's Tales #1)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  3,926 ratings  ·  563 reviews
Chinese edition of The Orphan's Tales: In The Night Garden The Book Of The Sea. In Traditional Chinese. Distributed by Tsai Fong Books, Inc.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Fu Lin Wen Hua/Tsai Fong Books (first published October 28th 2006)
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Sam There's actually only two books (four, if you consider that each book is split into two 'books'). They aren't short stories, and there is definitely…moreThere's actually only two books (four, if you consider that each book is split into two 'books'). They aren't short stories, and there is definitely pay-off from the two books. You really need to read both books to have the pay-off you're looking for, though. Although the four stories are wonderful on their own.

These are two of my very favorite books of all time. So good. So you should really give it a go if you're interested! :)(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 01, 2008 Grace rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 30, 2015 Carol. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 18, 2015 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: mark monday
Shelves: 2015_sow
Fans of creation myths, fractured fairy tales and stories in the key of If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler will find plenty to love in this wondrous book of interweaving tales.

Valente writes in a panoply of differing voices; her stories rich and unique in their telling – marvelously intertwined and displaying real writerly prowess. The reader is taken down the rabbit hole of tales, each telescoping deeper into a rich narrative replete with beautifully imagined monsters, the angels and devils of h
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)
Dec 10, 2009 Tatiana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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 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
“They were all whispers now, the two of them, conspirators and thieves."

Valente never disappoints. Such a marvelous writing and imagination.

Catherynne M. Valente is, in my opinion, one of the most talented fantasy author out there. Considering that In the night garden isn't one of her latest books, it's even more impressive. If I had to describe it I'd tell you that this is a matryoshka of stories. A story within a story whitin another story, a labyrinth in which it's easy to get lost. However i
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
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile

I thought this was a really intersting story.

Past Valente books, particularly Deathless, I've described like reading a dream, or what a dream would read like.

This story is more like a dance, the way the stories and characters weave in and out of each other. Dance partners that have sat down, and we think gone for the evening, crop up again from time to time, threading together the disparate pieces into a larger tapestery. Sometimes it would take me a second to remember who was who, but there
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
Alix Harrow
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
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
So far it's the awkward size that's capturing my attention, I admit. My trade pb did not work for long enough in bed last night, even though I was enjoying it. I was warned that it's a bit of a puzzle, so I'm not having much trouble with the interlocking stories. I love the language.


Ok done. Recommend you read on e-reader, so you can easily refer back to a character or situation you lost track of. I read this in only a few long sessions, carefully, and I still missed bits.

Savor it
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
The first time I tried to read this, some years ago, I was intrigued by its structure of stories nested in stories nested in stories, and loved Valente's imagination, but the style rubbed me the wrong way, which kept me from getting fully into it. This time everything clicked, and I was completely sucked in.

Valente is telling her own kind of fairy tales - dark, funny, beautiful, mutated - twining them around related themes, often inverting familiar fairy tale tropes, and managing to make seeming
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
It took millennia for the stories to be collected that eventually became the fairy tales we know: Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Eddas, One Thousand and One Nights. The unknown authors of these famous stories have been many, passing down oral tales for generations.

Now, Catherynne Valente has created an epic collection of new dark fairy tales (this anthology contains two books of interlocking stories, as does the sequel), which not only have the feel and sound of ancient myths and fantasy stories, they
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
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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 (Leningrad Diptych, #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)

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“Never put your faith in a Prince. When you require a miracle, trust in a Witch.” 329 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.” 46 likes
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