Clay's Reviews > Palimpsest

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
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Apr 29, 10

Read in May, 2009

And now for something completely different … Catherynne M. Valente has written a truly erotic fantasy. “Palimpsest” (Bantam, $14, 367 pages) is about a city that only be visited during dreams, and only if those dreams follow a sexual encounter with another person who is marked by a tattoo of part of the map of Palimpsest, the city in question.

Valente is a dreamy, poetic writer, and “Palimpsest” often veers in strange directions, with side trips that lead nowhere, but her love of language and poet’s instincts keep the book from dragging too much. The plot, when finally revealed, is fairly simple, but the web of magic and sexual atmospherics makes “Palimpsest” an unusual book in the genre.

Those who liked her two-book series, “The Orphan’s Tales”, will definitely want to read her latest, as it’s a slight step up from “In the Night Garden” and “In the Cities of Coin and Spice.” As with the previous books, though, it wouldn’t hurt if “Palimpsest” were a bit shorter, and the pace a bit faster.

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