Valente, Catherynne: The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice

Writer: Catherynne M. Valente

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 516


There’s actually not a whole lot I can say about the concluding volume of Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales. I loved it. I was satisfied. I didn’t want to put it down, and thanks to my four-day weekend, I really didn’t have to. I did find myself wishing that I’d had the chance to read this volume immediately after volume 1 because there’s a lot of subtle detail and symbols and entangled storylines that I found myself straining to remember. But the good thing is I love these two books so much I look forward to reading them again in the future, back to back, just like I wanted.


The Orphan’s Tales is the kind of story that rewards re-reading. I know that when I go back to volume I, I’ll get far more out of it now that I know how the whole thing ends. There’s a certain kind of joy in that knowledge, and I don’t say that lightly, because I don’t like re-reading stuff. But this, in its own way, it reminds me of The Lord of the Rings: something rich and developed enough to return to year after year. Granted, the two stories couldn’t be more different: Valente’s world is rich with diversity, symbolism, feminism, fairy tale, and magic. The way these stories weave themselves together is nothing short of beautiful, and I hear, again and again, that The Orphan’s Tales are structured after The Arabian Nights, which I’ve never read, so I don’t know how it really compares, only that Valente’s work is a jewel and any fantasy reader’s library is sorely lacking if these two volumes aren’t a part of it.


Shara Saunsaucie


  1. I had almost the exact same reaction to this book. I know that I’ll reread it over and over again the same way people reread LOTR. It’s such a fabulous book,I can’t recommend it enough.

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