In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente

In the Night Garden

September 2011
Recommended for fans of fairytales, weavings stories, characters
 ★    ★    ★    ★    1/2

Book as arabesque.

Short story leads to short story, each providing background and impetus for the next, characters answering questions to what led them to that intersection. It’s a beautiful technique that comes back around to many of the original story characters.

The trouble for me is that the short story makes it easy to put down and go do something else, as it’s often a natural break in the plot and action, so it took me far too long to finish. More clues or story in the background setting of the young wild girl in the king’s garden could have helped give context to why she is there and keep me motivated; perhaps the second book will bring the story telling back around to the “real” narrative of the young girl and the prince.

I find the language and ideas poetic and beautiful. Some might find the prose “purplish” but I would say that fans of de Lint and Beagle will love it. Valente deserves the James Tiptree Jr. award with such interesting female characters and her ability to turn conventions sideways. The story of the princess in the tower became particularly fascinating. It’s a very full, imaginative book that usually does not go too far into moralizing; characters are created uniquely and quickly in the short stories, and subsequent ones even bring insight into villains and evil kings and sorceresses.


About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, Epic fantasy, fantasy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente

  1. 1stavenue says:

    I’ve been meaning to read Valente, de Lint, and Beagle for what seems like forever but still haven’t somehow. Will have to try harder this year.

    • thebookgator says:

      I love their language but all works are not created equal. I love Beagle’s shorts, Deathless by Valente. and deLint’s shorts a book at a time.

      • 1stavenue says:

        I have a feeling my taste would be similar. Right now I’m focused on Valente and will make my way to the other two later on. Which would you recommend first, Night Garden or the Fairy Land series?

  2. thebookgator says:

    Everything she writes is so different from everything else she writes. She’s very interesting in her thematic/stylistic variability… I really think you’d enjoy Deathless, if you are in the mood for dark romantic fairy tale. The Girl Who Circumnavigated is fun, but obviously for younger. The Night Garden is a bunch of winding, female-power fairy tales told in fairy tale tradition. So… what’s your mood?

    • 1stavenue says:

      Ooh they all sound so good. I wanna try them all but should pace myself so as not to be overwhelmed. Deathless is first on the agenda since I own it and just found someone to read it with me. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll try The Night Garden after Deathless.

      (sorry about the late reply. WP has been slacking on notifications lately.)

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