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In the Cities of Coin and Spice (The Orphan's Tales, #2)
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In the Cities of Coin and Spice

(The Orphan's Tales #2)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  2,683 ratings  ·  285 reviews
Catherynne M. Valente enchanted readers with her spellbinding In the Night Garden. Now she continues to weave her storytelling magic in a new book of Orphan’s Tales—an epic of the fantastic and the exotic, the monstrous and mysterious, that will transport you far away from the everyday….

Her name and origins are unknown, but the endless tales inked upon this orphan’s ey
Paperback, 516 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Spectra (first published January 2007)
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Devi The first volume is a must before reading the second volume. They are deeply interconnected and you will not fully understand any of the second book w…moreThe first volume is a must before reading the second volume. They are deeply interconnected and you will not fully understand any of the second book without reading the first. It is not so much a collection of short stories as it is stories within stories within stories, on and on to great depths, and holding it all together is a single story of an orphan girl living in a garden. In some respects, it is a novel told in short story form. Everything is connected. (less)

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Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Everything good in the world has feathers and wings and claws.”

So What's It About?

Well, see, there's this feral girl with stories marking her eyes and a lonely prince and they're in a garden and all her stories intersect and build off each other in a mysterious, magical way. That's about all you need to know!

What I Thought

The first book in this series, In the Night Garden, was one of my favorite reads last year. I had never read anything quite like it before and it was entrancing through and th
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
"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 t ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This continuation of the Orphan's tales very much continues in the same vein as the first. Stories within stories, sheer, unbridled imagination... a modern 1001 Nights with a very sophisticated and original sequencing of mythologies, from nagas, selkies, winged skeletons, and ever-present hunger, of leopards, broken unicorns, women pared away to replacement parts, and most of all...

Of sorrow.

This novel takes a more liberal superstructure approach over the first, continuing the tales of the Orpha
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
All the stars! I am so impressed by the scope, creativity, and storytelling of this diptych. I'm a little surprised Catherynne Valente went on to write more books, because if I had just poured out as many stories - more than most people tell in a lifetime - as she has within In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice, I might well be out of stories for the rest of my life.

There's no good reason why this story has been split up into two books, as they are very much the same work. I
Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
I found this second book of "The Orphan's Tales" less engaging than the first one. This is probably why I so easily put it down after reaching the middle and didn't pick it up until weeks later.

"In the Cities of Coin and Spice" was much darker and less enchanting than "In the Night Garden" and its characters less compelling. I thought the first half ("The Book of the Storm") was extremely disturbing for a book of fairy tales and the second ("The Book of the Scald") was a little too scattered, a
T.D. Whittle
This one is a treasure to keep and re-read, which is likewise true of the first book in the set, In the Night Garden. Valente's reworking of tales taken from just about everywhere―She is deeply knowledgeable about myths, fairy tales, and folklore!―is fresh, lively, vivid, and completely her own. It is typical of my reading of Valente (and I've read a lot, but not yet all, of her work) that I never think, "Oh, I've seen this before," because I haven't. She began as a poet and the poet shines thro ...more
Megan Baxter
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
The stories continue in this second volume of The Orphan's Tales, and I am so ambivalent about what I'm about to say. I love Catherynne Valente as a writer, I do so very much, and yet. There is beautiful prose in this book, intoxicating stories, brilliant twists, interesting characters. And yet. The stories flow and interweave, and usually I love this kind of meandering and intertwining. And yet.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforceme
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
The second part of The Orphan Tales is every bit as enchanting as the first one. Similar to In the Night Garden, this book is comprised of two major story arcs, one about a special brand of coins and a journey to the desolate shores of the lake where lost souls go; the other in and around Ajanahb - the city of spices. Once again, the thread of the story jumps from character to character, each one adding a bit more to the overall canvas. Along the way, characters from the previous stories put in ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Cities of Coin and Spice is the sequel to In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente. The books share the same structure, with stories nested inside of stories, up to seven levels including the framing story. As for that framing story, it continues in this book and finally gets a satisfying conclusion.

I enjoyed this one as much as the first one. The format has lost its newness factor, though; at this point it feels perfectly normal. It also didn’t seem quite as complexly structured as the
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review encompasses my feelings about both books, as they really belong together.

I have read so many hundreds of fairy tales in my life, but these are the ones that have stuck with me the most. Catherynne Valente tells dozens of stories in dozens of voices that weave in and out of one another and somehow create not just a bigger story but a whole universe.

I haven't felt so much genuine surprise and interest and awe and horror and love since I got my first copy of Grimm's. I have so much aff
This duo of books (but really just one incredible labyrinthine tale) are without doubt one of the highlights of my entire reading life.

Clearly writing a review for such a story is near impossible; I will attempt it eventually - but not yet.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
It's hard to review this book separately from In the Night Garden, because ultimately they're one book in two volumes. And so star ratings are somewhat arbitrary.

Like In the Night Garden, In the Cities of Coin and Spice is a lovely book made up of nested, interconnected stories. The stories are bizarre and fascinating and peopled by interesting, unusual characters. Like the first book, this one contains two "big" stories within the main frame story, and with dozens of nested stories within each
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who's ever read a fairy tale or who loves anything beautiful
When this book came out, I went straight out and bought both it and the first half of the pair, "In the Night Garden," because I'd read the first one and loved it so much that I wanted to have them both for always. Valente's prose is gorgeous - rich, velvety, three-dimensonal, and painfully honest. And the stories-within-stories-within-stories connect beautifully with each other, and with stories and characters from the first book. The characters feel like real people, and she makes you care abo ...more
Jun 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff, want-to-buy
I loved the first book. The intricate interweaving of the stories looping back and integrating with the previous threads of story like a three dimensional tapestry (I have just blanked on a suitable simile - maybe one will come to me later). This book, on the other hand… this story is a continuation of the first but where the first carried me along, this one kept dropping me into the deep end. I do not know if I just had a less cohesive attention span, but every time the story jumped, I had a ha ...more
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The girl has more than one set of stories. But we cannot truly talk of them just yet. Stories are scared creatures. If you even as much as whisper their secrets before they are ready to share them, they disappear into the night. Let's just say that the girl goes on to tell the boy of another orphan who ends up begging at a dock. There, she hears the tales of a net-weaver named Sigrid, who tells her of the tales of her journey with the wolves and how they brought her to their land of many towers. ...more
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
Valente's previous novel left me dazzled by her creativity and deft handling of a story within a story within a story writing style.

The sequel brings more of the same, but it lost me somewhere along the way. Her creativity is at times just too danged bizarre for my tastes. Often her creatures/creations seemed like a random mish mash of ideas and parts, like a monster hastily created by a overzealous D&D player from my role playing days in the 80s: "Yeah, well . . . you see in front of you a big,
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Winding and tangling back and back, swinging forward and backward like a holy censer, the tendrils of it's smoke reaching out and around and into each other like the coils of a snake...
Along with Calvino's Invisible Cities, this might very well be one of the most imaginative and beautiful books I've ever read.
I have a complicated relationship with Valente's books. I love love love them, until I don't. I adore her gorgeous prose, I'm thrilled by her fantastic imagination, I'm intoxicated by her amazing symbolism and ideas, and I'm inhabited by the characters she creates. But then I find myself reading a couple of pages and wandering away, forcing myself to go back to it so I can just get through it, checking how much more I need to read.... I think there just isn't enough story to keep me going for th ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great, favorites
"Tell me a tale where she wakes one morning and finds that her heart is white as a silkworm, and the sun is golden on the sill, and she then believes that she can live, and hold peace in her hand like a pearl."

I cried about 800 times reading In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice. Just remarkable work, absolutely adored these.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
A beautiful ending to a beautiful story
Kristin Boes
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Less of a sequel, more of a continuation. The first book never really ended, any more than this one has a solid, new beginning. Just as beautiful and lyrical and absorbing as the first. I will need to read both of them about six more times before I catch everything, all the overlaps and twinings and interweaves. And I will fall in love every time.
Jessica Lewenda
Valente does not disappoint. Another favourite.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is a modern masterpiece.
Yesterday I finished this book and for what seemed to be different stories with a number of links, all came together in an overarching story. If you're looking for a pageturner, this is not it. It takes some time to really appreciate this book. You really have to pay attention which "level" story you're reading. It's stories, in stories, nested in other stories. Fairytales of all cultures mixed and recreated to a new and magical new world. And all written in be
Jen Jen
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never read anything like this.
Eustacia Tan
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nlb-ereads
After I finished this book, I realised that I definitely waited too long after reading "In the Night Garden" (the first book), because In the Cities of Coin and Spice continues the tale etched on the eyelids of the girl in the garden. It's the same framing device, but it feels much more fleshed out this time. And a good thing too, because the 'framing device' turns out to be important (not gonna give any spoilers, so don't worry).

Like the previous book, each tale the girl tells is a tale within
Sarah McGill
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
With Dinazade’s marriage soon approaching, the prince returns to the garden to hear more of the girl’s amazing stories. As she tells him of a journey to the land of the dead, the dead town of Marrow, a devastating hunger, and a huldra’s attempt to find a place for herself, Dinazade grows ever more afraid of her upcoming marriage and the prince begins to understand better both Dinazade and the strange girl in the garden.

This may be the best of Catherynne’s books that I’ve read. While I would cate
Nancy Meservier
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, library
Alone in a garden lives a young girl filled with stories written on her eyelids in the blackest of ink. Her tales are so enchanting that she has drawn in the son of the sultan to listen to her every night, despite the fact that his visit are forbidden by his older sister, Dinarzad. Only this time around, the stories are a little darker, and life at the palace becomes more complex when a terrified Dinarzad becomes engaged to a wealthy man.

In The Cities of Coin and Spice is the second and final bo
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Khaamil, a Djinn, a character in The Orphan’s Tales, says, “[W]eve the libraries to ourselves, we can discover just exactly who is who—imagine! . . . [L]et’s find out who you are. . . . Where you come from! Genealogy is such a lot of fun.” Sorrow, upon whose eyelids are imprinted Khaamil’s words, knows nothing of herself, of her own origins. She can read the stories on the inner surfaces of her eyelids but must rely on someone else to read the stories on the outer surfaces while she closes her e ...more
Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I didn't write a review for this book! I absolutely loved it. I found the first book wandering in a bookstore, and it so captivated me, I bought this off Amazon soon after. I finished it earlier this year (I am writing this September 15th) and quite loved it, I recommended it to several people.

Valente's imagery doesn't stop in this book, and since I got used to her flowery, lyrical language in the preceding book, it wasn't as awkward or uncomfortable this time. I think it's best
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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

Other books in the series

The Orphan's Tales (2 books)
  • In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1)

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