Volume 1: In the Night Garden; New York: Bantam Spectra 2006; $16.00 tpb; 483 pages
Volume 2: In the Cities of Coin and Spice; New York: Bantam Spectra 2007; $16.00 tpb; 516 pages
Catherynne Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales is a two-volume, richly imagined fairy tale, a deeply connected duology. When I began reading In the Night Garden, its plot structure boggled my mind, conjuring an image of a painting which includes a painting of itself within, which of course would have another duplicated painting within that. While the eye wouldn’t see it, the mind conceives ever tinier paintings being reproduced microscopically ad infinitum. The stories that build into In the Night Garden and its companion volume, In the Cities of Coin and Spice, have each literary painting change to tell a new tale connected both to the previous one and to the later tales to come, all interconnected like strange Russian stacking dolls but each one unique within the other and augmenting each other.