What I’ve been reading: Palimpsest, by Catherynne M Valente


Catherynne M Valente

Palimpsest is a dark, beautiful and consuming tale of four strangers and a city.

I really enjoyed this book once I got engrossed in it. By the time I got to the middle section I had trouble putting it down. Getting to that tipping point was harder. The novel has lots of threads and each has to be introduced. So as each new character is introduces you have to switch from reading about someone you’re bought in to to some one new.

As the novel progresses, the threads and characters are expertly woven together. As the last strand falls into place, the story is tied off with and elegant end – no flabby denouement to tuck away loose bits, just a neat bow.

The style that the book is written in is lush. Reading it is like wading through a swimming pool filled with velvet tea roses, dark chocolate and orange peel You could drown in the language. The drowning would be both enjoyable and decadent.

I liked: The whole concept around which the book is based: the notion of a city as a virus and the method of travelling there.
I disliked: Having so many main characters to follow. I found some less sympathetic than others and felt guilty that I was giving their chapters less than my full attention as I tore through them on my way to get back to a favoured character.
Would I read it again? It’s practically mandatory.
Would I recommend to a friend? Depends on the friend. This book is Marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it. For some I’d say “You must read this.”; for others, “Try it and see”.
Rating: 4/5 YMMV

What did you think of this book? Let me know in the comments.

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