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review 2013-09-27 15:19
A gorgeous book...
Val / Orson [hc] - Marly Youmans

"In the middle of the night, the whole history is in me with a rush and a startle and a gasp so that I wake in fear, as if birds had sprung from the roiled sheets around my legs in a single feathery flight. I want to sink into the pool of sleep but cannot because the story of those days lies cauled around me in long skeins and I remember how it was."



Thus begins Val/Orson, a book described by Theodora Goss on the back cover as "a combination of myth, Shakespeare, and modern environmentalism, with not a little magic thrown into the mixture, written in prose as lush as it is precise." It's the best summary of this book you will probably find.


This book is the story of Val, haunted by the loss of his twin, who was stolen from their mother right before Val was born. His disappearance is a constant presence for both Val and his mother Bella, who didn't even get to see her oldest son's face after he was born, since he was covered in a caul. She sees this as a sign he was touched by the fey, and wears a locket with two pictures inside - one of Val as a baby, and one picture of a child wearing a veil over his face.


Val names his missing brother Orson, and his search for Orson in the woods takes on a panicked edge when Val begins suffering from seizures. Soon after, a tree sitter who goes by Diamond disappears. Val wonders if her vanishing is connected to his brother's, and soon he begins to uncover hints that his brother might still be alive and living in the forest.



For those who love fairy tales, Shakespeare, and books with any sort of magic, this is the book for you. It ends beautifully:


"However it falls, I wish you well from the other side of the looking-glass between us.


Yet isn't there something of your own look in mine? In me, haven't you found something of yourself - something you had lost and nearly missed forever?


So it is, or so I dreamed it could be.


Linger here; then go! Press the final sheet down on our warm desirous selves, close the covers of the book, and leave us to our revels."


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