Izlinda's Reviews > In the Night Garden

In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
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's review
Apr 19, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy-fairy-tales-mythology
Read in March, 2008

** spoiler alert ** A girl lives in the garden of a Sultan and is seen by others to be a demon, because she has dark eyelids and surrounding areas. However, as we find out when a boy stumbles upon her, they are really minutely tattooed stories. She relieves them night by night to this noble boy, and each story is interwoven within others much like how Scheherazade spun her tales, about monsters, creatures, Stars (we might use the term "Gods" and "Goddesses" instead, though these are not like the ones we have in our world), vengeance, love, among other things. I found it difficult to begin because I felt it jumped so easily among stories and I was never a good head with names and non-linear story lines, but over time it became easier and a very addictive book. Even before I was finished with the book I ordered the second and concluding book from Amazon.com. The world of her stories have their own mythology and societal norms that can be quite different from ours, and it leaves on quite a cliffhanger. We also have interspersing flashes of the world the girl and the boy live in, and the obstacles they face trying to keep their nightly encounters. At times I would prefer the noble boy's behavior to be expanded upon, but I did appreciate how Valente mentioned his eagerness to hear the girl's stories overpowering his politeness.

If fantasy isn't your genre, this book may not be one to read. It might require one to severely suspend reality and disbelief, but I find it easier to do so among straight fantasy than among some science fiction writing where I sometimes feel they take themselves far too seriously. Her writing style may be overly cliche'd or too poetic/lyrical so a little cynicism may be expected upon the reader's reaction (I know I did), but I began to see the vivid imagery and almost had the other senses affected as well.
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