by Catherynne M. Valente
This novel is the spiritual heir to Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion. I don’t say that lightly, as The Passion has been one of my favorite novels for twenty years now. But it is: full of magic and mystery, longing and craving. And sex. Lots and lots of sex.
I came to read this book in a roundabout way. I read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland first. (Actually, Lisa read it aloud — it’s a great book for that.) The Fairyland book is based on snippets of a children’s book that appear in this one. I understand why Valente said she couldn’t write the Fairyland book, as this one is so far from a kid’s title as to make the idea preposterous. Still, she did, and I was able to find my way from that (appropriate for kids) enchanting story to this (decidedly adult) enchantment.
Valente’s imagination is stunning. She thinks of the most fabulous things, and makes you see them, makes you believe in them, makes you believe how very much her characters want and need them. This is a wonderful kind of book: a gateway to a secret world book, a book about dreams and obsessions and being driven to do things you didn’t think you could or would be capable of doing. Magic tattoos appear, fingers are cut off, body parts are transplanted across species, and there is no end to the strange wonders. Highly recommended.