1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Arty and also ... well, you know,
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This review is from: The Orphan's Tales Vol. I in the Night Garden: 1 (Paperback)
I do believe that we have here a whole new genre: art house fantasy. Never mind the content, see how clever we are!
No, I didn't like it very much, what makes you say that?
In a universe apparently inspired by an old Fry's Turkish Delight advert, a young orphan girl afflicted by a dark birthmark around her eyes haunts the gardens of the Palace (it doesn't say what Palace), feared and shunned by all, until one day a young boy dares to speak to her. She tells him that her birthmark is, in fact, a long, magical tale, one that she is reading (it also doesn't say how she learned to read) slowly, in a backwards mirror, one eye at a time. The boys asks her to tell him her stories, and so she begins.
The conceit here is that the stories in question, as in 'The Thousand and One Nights' on which this is so clearly based, unfold from character to character: we begin, and occasionally return to, the orphan and the boy; she begins to tell him the Prince's story; the Prince meets a Witch, and we move on to her story; then the Witch's grandmother gets in on the action ... and so on. It's an entertaining enough novelty to begin with, but very soon gets tedious. Aside from all else, the stories themselves are thin and insubstantial, and being broken up in this way does nothing to improve them.
The book itself is beautifully produced, in a large format, on heavy quality paper, a glossy cover, illustrations - rather bad ones, but I expect the artist was proud of them - and rough-cut page edges. (Actually, I'm not sure what the term is for the page edges; I think they're cut to different widths according to alternate chapters, but I really can't be bothered to check.) Lots of style; very little substance. Still, if you pretend you're clever and arty enough, there's every possibility that you'll manage to fool a few people at least into agreeing with you.
To Oxfam with this one.