THE ORPHAN'S TALES: IN THE CITIES OF COIN AND SPICE
The second and concluding volume in Valente's Orphan's Tales is every bit as charming, subversive and lyrical as the first. The format is unusual -- nested, interconnected fairy tales -- and there is much to savor in this clever deconstruction and reconstruction of the conventions of the genre. This is a thought-provoking and thoroughly original fantasy that readers will be sure to enjoy.
In the sultan's garden, there's a mysterious orphan girl with words upon her eyelids. Some call her demon, but one little boy calls her friend, and it's to him that she tells the stories written upon her eyes. They are fantastic stories about golden hedgehogs, de-horned unicorns, gem-eaters, harpies and a one-armed hero that's named Seven.
As the wedding of the sultan's daughter approaches, the nameless girl tells her stories to the young boy, the heir to the kingdom until, finally, they run out and she learns the truth about who she is. (Bantam Spectra, Nov., 528 pp., $14.00)