By Catherynne M. Valente
Night Shade Books, $14.99, 251 pages
Catherynne M. Valente continues her story of four parts – the present and three translated tales that slowly unlock the mystery of Prester John – with the priest who traveled east and became a king. The Folded World is a continuation of the spellbinding story of the Prester John series, and it picks up where the last left off with Brother Hiob sprouted and his assistant taking over his work of translating the books with John’s story. The books themselves tell the tale of not only John and his wife but also of his daughter, a strange creature who speaks and sees through her hands, and that of an explorer who finds a wall that is rumored to keep monsters out. It would be a daunting task for any author to create these individual stories and weave them into each other seamlessly, but Valente does just that. Her language is lyrical and beautiful, even though this is not a happy story. The spell is hard to break even after the novel is finished. These are not books to read out of order – start with the first one and delve into Prester John’s world.