Review No.121 – Palimpsest

Palimpsest – Catherynne M. Valente

Bantam Books, 2009

Each time it begins with an unexpected encounter, a mistake, impulsive lovers met in outlandish circumstances. The same secret is passed from one skin to another and four strangers dream their way into Palimpsest, where chance binds their lives together even as they follow radically different paths. This city seems like a shared fantasy, an addiction for the lost and disillusioned, but to deny its reality is to court disaster.

Pamlimpsest is a strange experience and not one that’s easy to describe. The plot is deliberately obscure and relationships between the characters range on a spectrum from decidedly inadvisable to masochistically torturous. The writing, though, is beguilingly poetical, and rich with fascinating ideas. This is a complex, confronting book, but strikingly beautiful too. Valente’s other works include the Orphan’s Tales duology, In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice.


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