The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente
There is something beautiful and utterly enthralling about this book. It is in the words, deftly woven together to paint such pictures as you have never imagined. It is in the characters, flawed in perfect ways and you cannot help but love them for it. Being interrupted while reading was like surfacing from a deep swim or a deep nap, and took time to reorient back into the world.
It is in the telling- there are is a fascinating mix of point of view characters, and the whole book reads like a diary, which in essence much of it is.
The beautiful and the grotesque walk hand and hand through this book, leaving a rich trail of prose that will keep the reader turning pages, both excited and dreading what will be revealed in the next paragraph, the next story.
The book is based on the legend of Prester John and the paradise he was supposed to have ruled, and a letter that started spreading around Europe that was supposedly from this legendary man. It takes all the magnificence and magic of the legend and suggests ‘what if it all were true…’
Part historical fantasy, part look into the human soul and the things we desperately want to believe in, The Habitation of the Blessed is a truly stunning work, and I cannot wait to read more.