Home » fantasy » The Folded World by Catherynne Valente

The Folded World by Catherynne Valente

“We are all just humans, and most of us fools, and all of us longing for more than we have, to know more than we know- and yet even that is not enough, for if we knew everything we would only be disappointed that there was not one more secret to uncover.” -Catherynne Valente, The Folded World, pg 170

Prester John and Hagia have a daughter, with a sweet mouth on her right hand while a bitter sits on her left, two opposing personalities in one body pulling all the world in one direction. Prester John has another daughter, a crane’s wing where her second arm should be, the result of a fierce and half-forgotten coupling early in his sojourn.

Prester John has an answer to his letter, a plea from Jerusalem for the great king to come to the aid of Christendom with his armies of mythical creatures and magics.

So Prester John takes his wife and fierce crane-winged daughter with him to war, leaving his gentle two-mouthed daughter with a lion who teaches love. While across the diamond wall another human stumbles into lands far stranger than his wildest imaginings and in the dark of the forest a unicorn is lured to the slaughter.

The Folded World retains the mesmerizing air of Habitation of the Blessed, weaving layers of narrative voices that pull together in a rich, decadent tapestry of human emotion and tragedy. Every character is working to sort out their place in a world that is so much larger than any of them had imagined, with pleasures and perils aplenty. It is a book that will reach out to anyone who has ever wondered where they fit in, how to make themselves fit in. From priests to princesses, it is a book about acceptance, on every imaginable level. Valente’s prose is, again, an absolute pleasure to read- rich with sounds and shapes that paint a fascinatingly unique picture sure to leave you daydreaming.

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5 Comments

  1. Redhead says:

    Im about 50 pages into this book. . . and loving every word of it.

    • wayward drui says:

      I took it with me on the flight to and from World Fantasy last weekend- most enjoyable flight I have had in a long time.

      There is something magnificently magical about the way Valente has written that series in particular.

      • Redhead says:

        I know. It’s like no one ever told her “you’re doing it wrong. You’re supposed to be making a jumble of words that has a delineated beginning, middle and end, and you’ve gone and made a Rose Window instead.”

        (eh, I really like Rose Windows)

  2. Paul Deane says:

    Interesting review. Would you mind if I quoted a few sentences from it on a website I’m working on? I will of course attribute the quote to you and link back to this page.

    Thanks!

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