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Ranking Author Catherynne M. Valente’s Best Books (A Bibliography Countdown)

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“What are Catherynne M. Valente’s Best Books?” We looked at all of Valente’s authored bibliography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the books written by Catherynne M. Valente and looked at their Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing scores, ranking them against one another to see which books came out on top. The books are ranked in our list below based on which titles have the highest overall score between all 3 review sites in comparison with all of the other books by the same author. The process isn’t super scientific and in reality, most books aren’t “better” than other books as much as they are just different. That being said, we do enjoy seeing where our favorites landed (can’t believe Radiance didn’t make it higher!), and if you aren’t familiar with the author at all, the rankings can help you see what books might be best to start with.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page. We will update the article if/when a new book by Catherynne M. Valente is released. Although it probably won’t be immediate so the scores on each site have time to settle and aren’t overly influenced by the early, usually much more opinionated, users.

Happy Scrolling!



The Top Book’s By Catherynne M. Valente



32 ) The Descent of Inanna (2006)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 24
  • Amazon: 30
  • LibraryThing: 32

A modern re-imagining of an ancient yet timeless myth. Though based on the original text, Caherynne’s version is a fresh look at Erishkigal’s underworld and Inanna’s descent into it. In Catherynne’s usual graceful style, we are drawn with Inanna down into the depths and, with a breathtaking end, finally led back towards the light.

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29 ) Six-Gun Snow White

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 28
  • Amazon: 27
  • LibraryThing: 30

Forget the dark, enchanted forest. Picture instead a masterfully evoked Old West where you are more likely to find coyotes as the seven dwarves. Insert into this scene a plain-spoken, appealing narrator who relates the history of our heroine’s parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. Although her mother’s life ended as hers began, so begins a remarkable tale: equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, this is an utterly enchanting story…at once familiar and entirely new.

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29 ) Palimpsest (2009)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 31
  • Amazon: 25
  • LibraryThing: 29

Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse—a voyage permitted only to those who’ve always believed there’s another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.

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29 ) The Grass-Cutting Sword (2006)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 32
  • Amazon: 28
  • LibraryThing: 25

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28 ) Radiance (2015)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 27
  • Amazon: 25
  • LibraryThing: 31

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

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27 ) Speak Easy

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 26
  • Amazon: 21
  • LibraryThing: 28

The hotel Artemisia sits on a fantastical 72nd Street, in a decade that never was. It is home to a cast of characters, creatures, and creations unlike any other, including especially Zelda Fair, who is perfect at being Zelda, but who longs for something more. The world of this extraordinary novella—a bootlegger’s brew of fairy tales, Jazz Age opulence, and organized crime—is ruled over by the diminutive, eternal, sinister Al. Zelda holds her own against the boss, or so it seems. But when she faces off against him and his besotted employee Frankie in a deadly game that just might change everything, she must bet it all and hope not to lose…

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26 ) Under in the Mere

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 25
  • Amazon: 30
  • LibraryThing: 17

The second release from the Electrum Novella Series, which takes Arthurian legend to the furthest limits of the imagination. Incantatory, labrynthine, and both playful and heartbreaking, Under in the Mere is a major new work from one of America’s premier writers of fantasy.

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25 ) The Labyrinth (2004)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 28
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 20

“Here Monsters are hidden …

A lyrical anti-quest through a conscious maze without center, borders, or escape–a dark pilgrim’s progress through a landscape of vicious Angels, plague houses, crocodile-prophets, tragic chess-sets, and the mind of an unraveling woman, driven on by the mocking guide who seeks to destroy as much as save.

Enter the world of the Labyrinth, where Doors do not wait to be opened, but hunt you in the night. This is Zarathustra in Wonderland, a puzzle which defies solution, a twisted path through language and madness…”

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24 ) The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (2013)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 16
  • Amazon: 20
  • LibraryThing: 27

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

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22 ) Music of a Proto-Suicide (2004)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 20
  • Amazon: 30
  • LibraryThing: 9

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22 ) Prequel: The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland—For a Little While (2011)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 22
  • Amazon: 11
  • LibraryThing: 26

This original short story tells the tale of how a girl named Mallow defeated King Goldmouth with the help of the Red Wind, Mr. Map, and many fairyland friends new and old–from Catherynne M. Valente, author of the children’s fantasy sensation The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

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20 ) Indistinguishable from Magic (2014)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 29
  • LibraryThing: 15

In Indistinguishable from Magic, more than 60 essays by New York Times-bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland) are brought together in print for the first time, sharing Cat’s observations and insights about fairy tales and myths, pop culture, gender and race issues, an amateur’s life on planet Earth and much more. Join Cat as she studies the fantasy genre’s inner clockwork to better comprehend its infatuation with medievalism (AKA dragon bad, sword pretty), considers the undervalued importance of the laundry machine to women’s rights in locales as wide-ranging as Japan and the steampunk genre, and comes to understand that so much of shaping fantasy works is about making puppets seem real and sympathetic (otherwise, you’re just playing with dolls). Also featured: Cat takes a hard look at why she can’t stop writing about Persephone, dwells upon the legacy of poets in Cleveland, and examines how stories teach us how to survive – if Gretel can kill the witch, Snow White can return from the dead, and Rapunzel can live in the desert, trust that you can too.

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20 ) Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams (2005)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 28
  • Amazon: 5
  • LibraryThing: 23

In the mind of Ayako, an old woman in exile on a mountain in medieval Japan, nothing is certain, and nothing holds a familiar shape for long. This is a map of a psyche exalted and destroyed by solitude, and on its contorted surface Shinto philosophy, Greek mathematics, Hawaiian goddesses, Egyptian legend, quantum physics, and Babylonian myth meet and merge…

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19 ) Deathless (2011)

  • Goodreads: 15
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 22

“Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what giants or wicked witches are to European culture: the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. Valente’s take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.

Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever peasant girl to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, that will bring Russian myth to life in a stunning new incarnation.”

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18 ) This Is My Letter to the World: The Omikuji Project, Cycle One (2010)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 23

“For two years, acclaimed novelist Catherynne M. Valente has been sending stories out into the wild. Every month, for twenty-four months, a new tale has appeared in mailboxes all over the world.

Here, for the first time, these stories have been brought together in a single anthology. Two years of detectives, fairy tales, frost giants, lost moon colonies, furies and minotaurs.”

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16 ) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (2011)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 18
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 11

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

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16 ) The Habitation of the Blessed (2010)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 20
  • Amazon: 6
  • LibraryThing: 17

This is the story of a place that never was: the kingdom of Prester John, the utopia described by an anonymous, twelfth-century document which captured the imagination of the medieval world and drove hundreds of lost souls to seek out its secrets, inspiring explorers, missionaries, and kings for centuries. But what if it were all true? What if there was such a place, and a poor, broken priest once stumbled past its borders, discovering, not a Christian paradise, but a country where everything is possible, immortality is easily had, and the Western world is nothing but a dim and distant dream?

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14 ) The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (2012)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 11
  • LibraryThing: 21

“September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows―and their magic―to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.
Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey in The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .”

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14 ) Silently and Very Fast

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 11
  • Amazon: 21
  • LibraryThing: 10

Fantastist Catherynne M. Valente takes on the folklore of artificial intelligence in this brand new, original novella of technology, identity, and an uncertain mechanized future. Neva is dreaming. But she is not alone. A mysterious machine entity called Elefsis haunts her and the members of her family, back through the generations to her great-great grandmother-a gifted computer programmer who changed the world. Together Neva and Elefsis navigate their history and their future, an uneasy, unwilling symbiote. But what they discover in their dreamworld might change them forever. A 2011 Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novella and 2012 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novella

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13 ) The Melancholy of Mechagirl (2013)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 19
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 3

A collection of some of Catherynne Valente’s most admired stories, including the Hugo Award-nominated novella Silently and Very Fast and the Locus Award finalist “13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,” with a brand-new long story to anchor the collection.

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12 ) The Glass Town Game

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 23
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 4

“Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school. But then something incredible happens: a train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.

This is their Glass Town…almost. Their Napoleon never rode into battle on a fire-breathing porcelain rooster. And the soldiers can die; wars are fought over a potion that raises the dead, a potion Anne would very much like to bring back to England. But returning is out of the question—Charlotte will never go back to that horrible school.”

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11 ) The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (2015)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 9
  • Amazon: 11
  • LibraryThing: 14

When a young troll named Hawthorn is stolen from Fairyland by the Red Wind, he becomes a changeling-a human boy-in the strange city of Chicago, a place no less bizarre and magical than Fairyland. Left with a human family, Hawthorn struggles with his troll nature and his changeling fate, while attending school and learning about human kindnesses-and un-kindnesses.

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10 ) Apocrypha (2005)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 17
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 13

Apocrypha: Catherynne M. Valente’s first full-length poetry collection, where freaks, emperors, bodhisattvas, beasts, witches, wicked stepmothers, Greek heroes, told seductively and wickedly in poem and prose, jostle and vie for supremacy . . .

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9 ) The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden (vol. 1) (Oct 2006)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 10
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 7

“Every once in a great while a book comes along that reminds us of the magic spell that stories can
cast over us–to dazzle, entertain, and enlighten. Welcome to the Arabian Nights for our time–a lush and fantastical epic guaranteed to spirit you away from the very first page….

Secreted away in a garden, a lonely girl spins stories to warm a curious prince: peculiar feats and unspeakable fates that loop through each other and back again to meet in the tapestry of her voice. Inked on her eyelids, each twisting, tattooed tale is a piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own hidden history. And what tales she tells! Tales of shape-shifting witches and wild horsewomen, heron kings and beast princesses, snake gods, dog monks, and living stars–each story more strange and fantastic than the one that came before. From ill-tempered “mermaid” to fastidious Beast, nothing is ever quite what it seems in these ever-shifting tales–even, and especially, their teller. Adorned with illustrations by the legendary Michael Kaluta, Valente’s enchanting lyrical fantasy offers a breathtaking reinvention of the untold myths and dark fairy tales that shape our dreams. And just when you think you’ve come to the end, you realize the adventure has only begun….”

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8 ) Oracles: A Pilgrimage (2006)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 11
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 2

The Oracles of the ancient world spoke for the gods, they spoke for the future: but they could not speak for themselves. Here, their voices bubble up from the depths, enraged and sardonic, sorrowing and wild, finding themselves on new ground — scattered across the American continent, marking a path for the seeker to follow, from New England universities to Hawaiian volcanoes, from dilapidated factories to Chinatown kitchens, from the Old East to the New West…

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7 ) A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects (2008)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 6
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 19

A GUIDE TO FOLKTALES IN FRAGILE DIALECTS by award-winning author and poet Catherynne M. Valente is a delightful collection of poetry, short fables, and fairy tales that explore myth and wonder, ancient and modern, with an introduction by Midori Snyder.

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5 ) The Refrigerator Monologues

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 7
  • Amazon: 11
  • LibraryThing: 8

“The Refrigerator Monologues is a collection of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.

In an entirely new and original superhero universe, Valente subversively explores these ideas and themes in the superhero genre, treating them with the same love, gravity, and humor as her fairy tales. After all, superheroes are our new fairy tales and these six women have their own stories to share.”

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5 ) The Bread We Eat in Dreams (2013)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 4

In the Locus Award-winning novelette ‘White Lines on a Green Field,’ an old story plays out against a high school backdrop as Coyote is quarterback and king for a season. A girl named Mallow embarks on an adventure of memorable and magical politicks in ‘The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland–For a Little While.’ The award-winning, tour de force novella ‘Silently and Very Fast’ is an ancient epic set in a far-flung future, the intimate autobiography of an evolving A.I. And in the title story, the history of a New England town and that of an outcast demon are irrevocably linked.

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4 ) The Folded World (2011)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 5
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 15

When the mysterious daughter of Prester John appears on the doorstep of her father”s palace, she brings with her news of war in the West–the Crusades have begun, and the bodies of the faithful are washing up on the shores of Pentexore. Three narratives intertwine to tell the tale of the beginning of the end of the world: a younger, angrier Hagia, the blemmye-wife of John and Queen of Pentexore, who takes up arms with the rest of her nation to fight a war they barely understand, Vyala, a lion-philosopher entrusted with the care of the deformed and prophetic royal princess, and another John, John Mandeville, who in his many travels discovers the land of Pentexore–on the other side of the diamond wall meant to keep demons and monsters at bay. These three voices weave a story of death, faith, beauty, and power, dancing in the margins of true history, illuminating a place that never was.

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3 ) Ventriloquism (2010)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 1
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 11

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2 ) The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (2016)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 2
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 6

“This final book in the New York Times-bestselling Fairyland series finds September accidentally crowned the Queen of Fairyland. But there are others who believe they have a fair and good claim on the throne, so there is a Royal Race―whoever wins will seize the crown.

Along the way, beloved characters including the Wyverary, A-Through-L, the boy Saturday, the changelings Hawthorn and Tamburlaine, the wombat Blunderbuss, and the gramophone Scratch are caught up in the madness. And September’s parents have crossed the universe to find their daughter.”

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1 ) The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice (vol. 2) (Oct 2007)

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 6
  • LibraryThing: 1

Her name and origins are unknown, but the endless tales inked upon this orphan’s eyelids weave a spell over all who listen to her read her secret history. And who can resist the stories she tells? From the Lake of the Dead and the City of Marrow to the artists who remain behind in a ghost city of spice, here are stories of hedgehog warriors and winged skeletons, loyal leopards and sparrow calligraphers. Nothing is too fantastic, anything can happen, but you’ll never guess what comes next in these intimately linked adventures of firebirds and djinn, singing manticores, mutilated unicorns, and women made entirely of glass and gears. Graced with the magical illustrations of Michael Kaluta, In the Cities of Coins and Spice is a book of dreams and wonders unlike any you’ve ever encountered. Open it anywhere and you will fall under its spell. For here the story never ends and the magic is only beginning….

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Catherynne M. Valente’s Best Books



Catherynne M. Valente Review Website Bibliography Rankings

BookGoodreadsAmazonLibraryThingOveral Rank
The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice (vol. 2) (Oct 2007) 361 1
The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (2016) 246 2
Ventriloquism (2010) 1811 3
The Folded World (2011) 5115 4
The Refrigerator Monologues 7118 5
The Bread We Eat in Dreams (2013) 1384 5
A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects (2008) 6119 7
Oracles: A Pilgrimage (2006) 11152 8
The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden (vol. 1) (Oct 2006) 10157 9
Apocrypha (2005) 17113 10
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (2015) 91114 11
The Glass Town Game 2384 12
The Melancholy of Mechagirl (2013) 19153 13
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (2012) 81121 14
Silently and Very Fast 112110 14
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (2011) 181511 16
The Habitation of the Blessed (2010) 20617 16
This Is My Letter to the World: The Omikuji Project, Cycle One (2010) 42323 18
Deathless (2011) 151522 19
Indistinguishable from Magic (2014) 132915 20
Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams (2005) 28523 20
Music of a Proto-Suicide (2004) 20309 22
Prequel: The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland—For a Little While (2011) 221126 22
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (2013) 162027 24
The Labyrinth (2004) 282320 25
Under in the Mere 253017 26
Speak Easy 262128 27
Radiance (2015) 272531 28
Six-Gun Snow White 282730 29
Palimpsest (2009) 312529 29
The Grass-Cutting Sword (2006) 322825 29
The Descent of Inanna (2006) 243032 32