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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 October 2009
This is an incredible book. Cat Valente's honeyed explosion of ideas and images is as addictive as the dream city she has created: hugely tragic, yearning, surreal and overpowering. I loved the fairytale setting of her "In the night garden" books, but this is a modern-day story with a far darker feel. In amongst the decadence and otherness she tells of the obsessive needs of four individuals and how far they'll go to get the only thing they can see. It builds, and the ending is just perfection.

Her best yet, from an author I already greatly admired - this book deserves some serious recognition! Warren Ellis had it exactly right: "A book of mad inventive wonder: there are more ideas on one page of this than on a hundred of anything else, told in stunning, jewelled language. --Warren Ellis".
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on 19 July 2012
"Palimpsest" is a literary jewel of a novel, not only of fantasy, but also of mainstream fiction too. Catherynne Valente writes as though she is an angel obsessed with creating high literary art, writing beautifully wrought lyrical descriptive prose that I have seen equaled by few. For no other reason, "Palimpsest" deserves a broad readership simply for its great writing as well as the critical praise bestowed upon it by notable literary critics such as Time Magazine's Lev Grossman. (To whom I remain indebted, as well as to Kelly Link - both compelling writers of literary fantasy and science fiction in their own right - for their high praise as recommended reading.) In a city that is visited by a lucky few in their dreams, who are passionate believers in a world beyond present-day reality, Palimpsest lures the most unlikeliest quartet of travelers seeking to transform their lives; New York City locksmith Oleg, beekeeper November, rare book binder Ludovicio and Sei, a young Japanese woman. Valente takes readers on epic journeys between fantasy and reality, between reason and faith, as the four travelers find themselves drawn irresistibly to both Palimpsest and to each other, and discover that they have uncovered wonders and fates far more compelling than what they had thought they had bargained for in making their separate treks to this enchanted city in their dreams. A most beguiling crafter of tales and an excellent prose stylist, Valente demonstrates just how relevant contemporary fantasy is to readers who value great writing, regardless of genre and setting, and that she is indeed a most worthy successor to the likes of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin, producing work that will endure as long as theirs.
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on 23 January 2010
Yes, the language is exquisite, but i must confess after In the Night Garden books this left me cold. I was intrigued but soon everything settled into a kind of predictability. My fault perhaps, but i just couldn't care about the characters and whether they actually got what they wanted. From one perspective, the book is very "now" in the themes it explores, the desire for gratification, the desire for escape, etc. but because i just couldn't empathise it left me sadly cold. Oh well... maybe i just don't dream this way.
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on 10 April 2010
Wonders and tragedies, joy and sorrow, sex and sacrifice, betrayal and forgiveness. Cat Valente weaves the story of four persons bound by fate, by loneliness and by the city of Palimpsest, setting, character and narrator, mater terribilis of war and love.
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on 24 February 2009
Wow! I've loved all Ms Valente's and have been waiting with increasing impatience for the release of Palimpsest.

It does not disappoint! the language, is beautiful and rich, poetry on the page, each word perfectly placed to follow the last.

This is a book to be treasured, to be read over and over again, to be carried round and dipped into.
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on 29 October 2011
This is a book to make you fall in love with the English language all over again. Imaginative, evocative, seductive it is a love affair that leaves you longing for the next encounter.
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on 13 May 2009
'Palimpsest' has the fervid texture of a drugged dream. Dreams can stir powerful emotions whilst you are caught in their grip, immersed in their almost-logic, almost-sense...

Contrast that then, with how you reflect upon your dreams (or other altered-state episodes) when you awaken, and the rest of your mind comes into play. I myself wonder at how such trivial, banal or just plain nonsensical events, experiences could have seemed so freighted with meaning, how that altered state caused you to assign such weight of significance to so little substance, to make so many connections on no real evidence and how waking life with its mundanities and effort is so much the richer, complex and rewarding.

Like dreams, I find this book unsatisfying, and for much the same reasons. You may find quite the reverse...but how do you then find your life?
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on 14 October 2010
I got to page three. This will suit you if you are studying an MA in women's lit and you secretly like a bit of fantasy but want to make sure people remember how 'literary' you are 'n all.
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