Jenny (Reading Envy)'s Reviews > The Habitation of the Blessed

The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente
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Mar 10, 12

bookshelves: audiobook, read2011, sci-fi-fantasy, sff-audio
Read from September 28 to October 10, 2011

Of all of Valente’s works, this reminds me of The Orphan’s Tales, the way there are multiple stories that are loosely connected in an overarching narrative. But somehow, it is much more intricate, and I was drawn in by this tree of books that is encountered early on by Brother Hiob of Lucerne. The interweaving stories in the book come from this tree, but they may act more like fruit than paper.

“This tree bore neither apples nor plums, but books, where fruit should sprout. The bark of its great trunk shone the color of parchment; its leaves a glossy vibrant red, as if it had drunk up all the colors of the long plain through its roots. In clusters and alone, books of all shapes hung among the pointed leaves, their covers obscenely bright and shining, swollen as peaches, gold and green, and cerulean, their pages thick as though with juice, their silver ribbon marks fluttering in the spiced wind.”

"Infinity is not a matter of outward space, but inward depth. We all of us spiral in, and in, and in, towards the spark of divinity buried at our core. And this slow spiral has no end."

My imagination was captured in that moment, and it only got better. The creatures in this book are bizarre and enchanting, and stretch the limitations of the reader alongside Brother Hiob. It is impossible not to start longing for the imaginary landscape of Pentexore, and I look forward to the future books in this world.

Ralph Lister also does a wonderful job with the audio, and the subtle differences in voices help the listener know where one is within the story. (see my longer review on SFF Audio)
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Reading Progress

09/28/2011 "Listening to the audio to review for SFF Audio. Valente's language is so beautiful read!"
09/29/2011
10.0% "Book tree!"
10/06/2011
55.0% ""Infinity is not a matter of outward space, but inward depth. We all of us spiral in, and in, and in, towards the spark of divinity buried at our core. And this slow spiral has no end.""
10/07/2011
70.0% "Not sure how to review this one, some elements would seriously disturb some people even though Valente explains them away....."
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Joell Smith-Borne Can't wait to hear what you think of this. The second one will be out soon!


message 2: by Ed (new) - added it

Ed I really need to read some of Valente's work! Where would you recommend starting?


Joell Smith-Borne Ed wrote: "I really need to read some of Valente's work! Where would you recommend starting?"

I think In the Night Garden is the most engaging and just plain fun of Valente's books. I love all her stuff, but for the most part, "fun" isn't the word I'd use for her books, so I'm using it in a pretty relative way here. But I couldn't put In the Night Garden down, and when I finally did, I couldn't stop thinking about it.


Jenny (Reading Envy) I think The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is probably the most accessible, but is related to something that comes from Palimpsest, which is my personal favorite, and probably the most fleshed out story wise.

So much of her writing is vignette or story within a story that it doesn't even feel linear. In the Night Garden is like that, as Habitation seems to be.

I liked her poems, Apocrypha, but I don't think they're as representative of her as much as what Joelle and I have suggested. One thing I've realized about Valente is that she is a master of world mythology, which is evident in everything.


message 5: by Ed (last edited Oct 02, 2011 02:59PM) (new) - added it

Ed I was leaning toward starting with Palimpsest, but I'll check out In the Night Garden or The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The latter two appear to be parts of different series though?


Jenny (Reading Envy) The Girl Who is actually a book the character November (in Palimpsest) read as a child; I think that's the connection. But yes, both Girl Who and In the Night Garden are the first of multiple books, but seem to standalone quite well. Palimpsest took my breath away.


message 7: by Jacob (new)

Jacob You listened to the audio? Hmm. I should try that. I tried reading this book last year but gave up because the language was too rich--which is the first book I've ever read that was too good to finish. But maybe hearing it read aloud would work better...


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