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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 ·  2,491 ratings  ·  259 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 eyeli
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…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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4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,491 ratings  ·  259 reviews

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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
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
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
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
Arielle Walker
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
A beautiful ending to a beautiful story
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
Valente does not disappoint. Another favourite.
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
Aug 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
What I enjoyed most out of this book was The Tale of the Hungry Lord, The Tale of the Tiger Harp, and Cat’s version of Unicorns.
One’s enjoyment of this series depends on how well one enjoys being told countless tales of fantasy and magic. If you cannot get enough of that ish, this is the series for you. One small gripe I have with Cat’s writing style is how impolite walking away must be. If not describing a passerby but an interlocutor, the main characters usually always have an exchange with t
Just as lushly written as the first book, I was initially so excited to see what would become, not only of the tattoo-eyed girl and sultan-prince boy, but also more of the lavish world that her tales created. I immediately bought it on the Kindle, and I think that something was lost in the digital translation. The drawings that were so intricate in the first one were blurry and hard to decipher on the screen (excluding the smaller drawings - those were blown up and actually easier to see) and th ...more
Caroline Eising
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015, fantasy, magic
Much I what I said for the previous book applies to this one as well. While some of the themes are a little more adult (sex, birth, death etc) the stories remain a glorious panorama of colour and detail, while seeming to lack substance. Like a beautiful, perfectly plated degustation dish that fails to fill the belly, I always found myself wanting more - just as you sample some wild and interesting flavour it's time to move onto the next dish.

There is some tying-together of the various stories (o
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This book is exactly like others have described it: it's a plethora of strange fairy-tales that are nestled inside one another and unfurl in rich, distinctive language.

I would have rated it higher except- well, it had its charms but I ended up thinking it was just too much of that sort of thing. I ended up just wanting to get through with the book and move on to something else. Also...even though I read it at a consistent rate, I still found myself getting lost in the multitude of characters and
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Finally finished! It was a mission, finishing this, a labour of love - or at least fairly strong affection - but a mission, nonetheless. Valente's writing is so jam-packed with whimsical description and flights of imagination that I felt quite tired reading it, but was still determined to finish. As with the first book, the cumulative effect of all the wee tales that make up the larger story is quite something by the end of the book. I'm sure something so imaginative shouldn't feel so much like ...more
Natasha Hurley-Walker
It took me much longer to get into this one, perhaps because I was so in love with the characters from the previous book, and they only cameo in this one. But around the 75% mark, everything starts drawing together, and it's impossible to put down. The writing is as gorgeous as ever, and the ending brought tears to my eyes. As with the previous book, almost every character is female, and has wonderful, interesting adventures that in fairy tales usually happen only to men. I love how the mytholog ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I read this hot on the heels of In the Night Garden, which may be the best way to read it: when the braided threads of the stories are all fresh in your mind. However, this book also starts out much darker and grimmer than its predecessor. It tells some very dark tales that remind me of the original fairy tails where people cut off their heels to fit into small shoes and used other folk's skulls as flower pots.

It's just as absorbing, complex, and ultimately satisfying as the first book, and it e
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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

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The Orphan's Tales (2 books)
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