the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘medieval

The Folded World by Catherynne Valente (Book two of A Dirge for Prester John)

Published by Night Shade Books, Nov 1, 2011

Where I got it: purchased new

Why I read it:  I loved the first book, The Habitation of the Blessed

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The truth has teeth and claws that bite and tear. We turn the truth into stories to hide the scars and soften the blows, and help us forget where the bodies are buried.

Except when the story is true.  Those are the ones that bleed the longest.

How is it that a retelling of an obscure myth can carry so much truth as to be unbearable? How is it that I can look to nearly any passage in The Folded World and say “ah yes, that’s exactly how the world really is”?

Picking up immediately where The Habitation of Blessed left off, at the beginning of The Folded World Brother Alaric is given the opportunity to pluck more books off the tree.  He randomly chooses three books, and he and the other monks begin copying; trying not to pay attention to what they are reading, endeavoring not to succumb to the power of memory, as Brother Hiob did.  They have to copy fast, these books are living things and have already begun to rot.

Put together in a similar style as Habitation of the Blessed (and you really must read these novels in order), we learn the stories in each of the three books as Alaric is copying them, but unlike Alaric, we are free to be seduced by them.  The three narratives twist and tumble around one another, leaving hints here and there of things that happened, or perhaps things that are to come. Valente’s prose is as always, so beautiful you want to cry, filled with metaphors that at first blush seem like they shouldn’t work, but with laughter on the lips you find they work perfectly.  I need to open the monster Thesaurus I just bought, so I can find the word that means “more incredible that I could have ever thought possible”, and use it to describe The Folded World. I wanted to read this entire book out loud, just to see if the words sounded as beautiful as they looked (for the record, even though I only read portions out loud, they did).

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.