The second and concluding volume of Tiptree Award–winner Valente's Orphan's Tales (after 2006's In the Night Garden), structured as a series of nested stories, is a fairy tale lover's wildest dream come true. A mysterious orphan girl, whose eyelids are darkly tattooed with the closely packed words from a seemingly endless number of fantastical tales, lives secretly in a palace garden. The girl shares her stories with the enthralled young heir to the Sultanate, who returns again and again to hear incredible yarns about one-armed heroes, hunchbacked ferrymen, giants, voracious gem eaters, conniving hedgehogs, harpies, djinns and singing Manticores. But with the wedding of the prince's sister Dinarzad (a not-so-subtle homage to The Arabian Nights) quickly approaching and harsh reality encroaching on the surreal garden, the orphan girl's stories finally run out. Cleverly examining and reconstructing the conventions of the fairy tale, especially the traditional roles of men and women, Valente has created a thought-provoking storytelling tour de force. (Nov.)
W00t! I am a tour de force!