In the Cities of Coin and Spice is the sequel to In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente. The books share the same structure, with stories nested inside of stories, up to seven levels including the framing story. As for that framing story, it continues in this book and finally gets a satisfying conclusion.
I enjoyed this one as much as the first one. The format has lost its newness factor, though; at this point it feels perfectly normal. It also didn’t seem quite as complexly structured as the first book, but maybe that’s just because I was so used to it. It seemed like the stories were more concentrated in a couple layers. As before, the stories were interconnected. There were also a <i>lot</i> of ties back to the first book, some obvious and some more subtle.
The stories themselves were darker than in the first book, especially in the first half, and I think I liked them a bit better. I did still occasionally lose interest in some parts, but not too much. The author wove everything together from both books in a satisfying and intricate way. I suspect a reader would enjoy the series as much if not more on a re-read, because the conclusion sheds new light on everything that happened before.
This was my first time reading anything by Valente, and I was impressed. I’ll likely try more of her work in the future.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I don’t know anything about this book, but I vaguely remember seeing comments that left me with the impression it would be pretty dark and/or bleak.