In the Cities of Coin and Spice Orphan's Tales, Book 2

In the Cities of Coin & Spice
Catherynne M. Valente
4 stars = Really Good

The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin & Spice is the second book in a two-book series, and the better of the pair by far. It's a deeply warm-feeling fantasy tale about a multitude of characters (which I'll discuss further in a moment), feeling 'adult' without being overly edgy or dark. In the style of 1001 Nights and similar fairytales, The Orphan's Tales is told through stories and anecdotes from almost every named character, something like a matryoshka doll in story form. This results in a cast where no one character feels sidelined or irrelevant, and in which every character is almost equally lovable-- my personal favorite is Oubliette, a huldra (which is described as being a sort of combination of a girl, a cow and a tree) who is seeking independence after being rejected and labeled wicked by her family.
As with most books, The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin & Spice is not free of problems; it uses some language that is now considered unacceptable, and there is one character who proceeds to go into a pages-long monologue largely concerning castration, but these are the only glaring issues. The prose and story structure may also confuse or overwhelm readers, but those who are prepared will likely find a great deal of enjoyment in it!

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